Tuesday December 11, 2018

Significant rise in number of Women dying from Drug overdoses Globally: Report

The annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board finds governments do not pay enough attention to the huge and growing problem of drug abuse among women

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FILE - In this May 22, 2008 file photo, used syringes and needles are piled on the ground under an underpass on the west side of San Antonio where drug addicts shoot up. VOA
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A new report finds a significant rise in the number of women dying from drug overdoses globally, while fewer women than men receive treatment for their addiction and are more severely punished for drug-taking.

The annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board finds governments do not pay enough attention to the huge and growing problem of drug abuse among women. The International Narcotics Control Board, which monitors implementation of U.N. international drug control treaties, says women get short shrift when it comes to the enactment of gender-sensitive policies.

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Gender-biased

INCB President Werner Sipp tells VOA one-third of global drug users are women, but only one-fifth receive treatment. He says there tends to be a gender bias against women, as they often are punished more harshly for drug-related offenses than men.

“We know that women are significantly more likely than men to be prescribed narcotics and anti-anxiety medications or we see that women are increasingly being arrested for drug-related crimes in some regions much more than men. They have even a disproportionate increase in drug overdoses,” he said.

The report notes HIV infections and mental health disorders are more prevalent among women who abuse drugs. It warns locking women up for drug crimes has a serious and detrimental impact on them and on their children and families.

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Not just in rich countries

Sipp says drug abuse is a problem in both rich and poor countries, though data in African and Asian countries is scant. He adds women drug abusers are likely to have greater difficulty receiving the treatment they need in developing countries.

“I think in Africa, the stigma of women, the stigma, which women have to face is probably greater than for instance in Europe or in the U.S,” he said. “A woman who is addicted does not dare to confess, to show that she is addicted because this might lead to very bad consequences in her community or in the society in general.”

The report calls for alternative measures to punishment and conviction for minor drug crimes among women. It recommends more investment in treatment and rehabilitation programs, education, and social integration. (VOA)

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With The End Of Sea Rescue Operations, Migrants Death Will Increase: U.N.

The International Organization for Migration reports more than 2,100 people have died making the dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Europe this year.

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Refugees, Migrants
Lifejackets piled on this Greek beach have come to stand for the rigors and danger that migrants face trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. VOA

Leading U.N. humanitarian agencies warn migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea will multiply with the end of sea and rescue operations by Doctors Without Borders and its partner SOS Mediterranee.

The two international charities were pressured by the European Union to put their ship, the Aquarius into dry dock and abandon their life-saving rescue mission.

The Aquarius has been docked in Marseille, France, since early October after Panama revoked its registration at the behest of the right-wing, anti-immigration Italian government.

Refugees, Migrants
In this Aug. 27, 1994 file photo, U.S. Coast Guard crew from the cutter Staten Island are hindered by rough seas in the Florida Straits as they attempt to rescue Cuban refugees. VOA

Italy claims these operations encourage migrants to make the perilous sea journey. It says ending these activities will save lives, a claim hotly disputed by U.N. officials.

UN refugee agency spokeswoman, Shabia Mantoo, says search-and-rescue capacity needs to be reinforced rather than diminished.

“So, we do continue to call strongly for increasing search-and-rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean and for leaving space for NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) to contribute in a coordinated manner to these efforts,” said Mantoo. “Saving lives is our primary concern.”

Since it began operations in February 2016, the Aquarius has helped nearly 30,000 refugees and migrants in distress find a safe haven. U.N. Human Rights Spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, tells VOA she is deeply concerned by recent developments.

Refugees, Migrants
Representational Image of Refugees. Wikimedia Commons.

“The provision of support and assistance to migrants must not be criminalized,” said Shamdasani. “The decrease of search-and-rescue by humanitarian organizations and States failure to provide adequate search-and-rescue capacity is resulting in an increase of migrants, an increase of vulnerability of migrants at sea.”

Also Read: Refugees’ Entitled To Claim The Right To Asylum in The U.S: U.N.

Shamdasani says the death rate in the Central Mediterranean this year is much higher than in previous years. She says States must protect the lives and safety of migrants and ensure those who are at risk are rescued and offered immediate assistance.

The International Organization for Migration reports more than 2,100 people have died making the dangerous sea crossing from Libya to Europe this year. This is nearly two-thirds of the more than 3,300 deaths recorded globally in 2018. (VOA)