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U.N. Reports Global Cocaine, Opium Production At Heights

The report says most of the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia and is sold in North America

opioid epidemic
Cataldo Ambulance medics and other first responders revive a 32-year-old man who was found unresponsive and not breathing after an opioid overdose on a sidewalk in the Boston suburb of Everett, Massachusetts, Aug. 23, 2017. VOA

A U.N. report warns the global production of cocaine and opium has reached record-breaking levels as the markets for those and other illicit drugs expand.

In its World Drug Report 2018, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime finds global opium production jumped by 65 percent to 10,500 tons from 2016 to 2017, and in 2016 more than 1,400 tons of cocaine were manufactured globally, the highest level ever recorded.

The report says most of the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia and is sold in North America. It says Africa and Asia are emerging as trafficking and consumption hubs. It says opium is mainly produced in Afghanistan and shipped through the so-called Balkan route into Turkey and West Europe.

Director of Division for Operations of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Miwa Kato tells VOA the growing opioid crisis, that is the non-medical use of prescription drugs, is becoming a major threat to public health and law enforcement worldwide.

“It is now accounting for three-quarters of addiction-related deaths around the world. So, it is a growing concern both in contexts like the North America context where the media attention very much is, but also in large parts of Africa and parts of Asia, where we do see similar problems,” Miwa Kato said.

Field Of poppies, Opium
Field Of poppies, Opium. Pixabay

The report finds 275 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 used illicit drugs at least once last year and nearly one-half-million drug abusers have died. Kato says the data is always very conservative and the true number of users and deaths is likely to be much higher.

The report says cannabis was the most widely consumed drug in 2016. It says it is too early to know the impact of the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis.

Also read: Fighting Cocaine Addiction! Buddhist Monastery in Thailand known for its Drug Rehabilitation Program

But the report says data from Colorado, one of the first states in the U.S. to legalize marijuana, show a rise in emergency hospital admissions from marijuana intoxication and an increase in traffic accidents and deaths. (VOA)

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UNICEF Launches Its Biggest-Ever Appeal To Help 73 Mn People

Fontaine says UNICEF has had to drastically cut back services for gender-based violence in Central African Republic because it only has received 36 percent of the money it needs.

Children wait to be treated at a roadside UNICEF clinic, in Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo VOA

The U.N. Children’s Fund is launching its largest-ever appeal for $3.9 billion in life-saving assistance for 73 million people, including 41 million children affected by conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies in 59 countries.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. Children’s Fund says 2019 also marks a year of heightened conflict, with more countries at war than at any time in the past three decades.

Among the greatest victims are more than 34 million children affected by conflict or disaster. UNICEF says they are suffering horrific levels of violence, deprivation and trauma with little access to protection and life-saving assistance.

UNICEF Director of Emergency Operations Manuel Fontaine says 88 percent of this year’s appeal is for humanitarian crises driven by conflict. He says the single biggest operation is to help Syrian refugees, the largest displacement crisis in the world, and the host communities in five neighboring countries of asylum.

syrian refugee children,
Syrian children, evacuated from rebel-held areas in the Eastern Ghouta, are seen playing at a shelter in the regime-controlled Adra district, on the northeastern outskirts of the capital Damascus, March 20, 2018. VOA

“The 2nd largest appeal is for Yemen, which over the past year has seen conditions, unfortunately, that were already catastrophic for children get even worse, if that is possible” Fontaine said. “Eight out of 10 children, which is over 11 million, now require humanitarian assistance in Yemen.”

UNICEF’s biggest operations traditionally have been in Africa. But this year the Democratic Republic of Congo places third, followed by Syria and South Sudan.

Fontaine says Africa unfortunately is the continent with the biggest gap in funding. He tells VOA African countries are not getting the attention they need, and that has serious consequences for humanitarian operations.

Graphic content / A Yemeni woman holds a child suffering from malnutrition as they sit on a bed at a treatment centre in a hospital in the third city of Taez in the country’s southwest on November 21, 2018. VOA

“In a country like Cameroon, which is one of the countries for which we have concerns, particularly in northwest and southwest region at the moment. We had aimed to immunize 61,000 children against measles and because of lack of resources, we could only immunize a bit more than 2,000,” Fontaine said. “So, obviously, we are far behind what we need to do.”

Also Read: Millions Of Urban Children in Worse Condition Than Rural People: UNICEF

Fontaine says UNICEF has had to drastically cut back services for gender-based violence in Central African Republic because it only has received 36 percent of the money it needs. In all cases, he says funding shortfalls have very direct implications on the lives of children and women. (VOA)