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U.N.’s Anti-Drug Agency Claims, Methamphetamine Production Skyrocketing in Southeast Asia

"Aside from methamphetamine which is getting most of the attention because of the surge in seizures and street price drops, synthetic opioids and other drugs have also been found across the region,"

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A member of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, PDEA, collects packs of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride also known as "Shabu" which they found hidden inside a steel cylinder in one of the biggest drug hauls in Manila, Philippines, on Aug. 7, 2018. Pixabay

Production of methamphetamine is skyrocketing in Southeast Asia, with prices dropping and usage expanding, the U.N.’s anti-drug agency said Monday.

Even as seizures of the drug known as speed, ice and “ya ba” in its various forms reached a record high last year, street prices have dropped, indicating increased availability, said a report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The agency said methamphetamine has become the main drug of concern in 12 out of 13 East and Southeast Asian countries, up from five a decade ago. The only exception was Vietnam, where heroin is considered the major problem.

In Thailand alone, 515 million methamphetamine tablets were seized in 2018, 17 times the total amount of the drug seized a decade ago in all 13 countries combined, the U.N. agency said. Much of the supply comes from neighboring Myanmar.

“Data on seizures, prices, use and treatment all point to continuing expansion of the methamphetamine market in East and Southeast Asia,” said Tun Nay Soe, the agency’s inter-regional program coordinator.

FILE - Thai policemen arrange packages of methamphetamine on a table before a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 15, 2013.
Thai policemen arrange packages of methamphetamine on a table before a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Feb. 15, 2013. VOA

The report warns that organized crime groups in the region have stepped up their involvement in making and trafficking methamphetamine and other drugs in the Golden Triangle, the region where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet that has historically been a major source of opium and heroin.

It said the drug market in East and South-East Asia had shifted from such opiates to methamphetamine since the latter part of the 2000s.

“The shift to methamphetamine has affected even countries traditionally known to have a relatively large market for heroin, such as China and Malaysia,” it said. “In Malaysia, the number of methamphetamine users detected by law enforcement authorities surpassed that of heroin users for the first time in 2017.”

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The drug agency warned that other synthetic drugs were also gaining traction in Asian markets. VOA

In another indicator of the methamphetamine epidemic, medical treatment related to its use dominated the number of drug-related admissions in several East and Southeast Asian countries, the report said.

The drug agency warned that other synthetic drugs were also gaining traction in Asian markets.

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“Potent synthetic opioids (e.g. fentanyl), implicated in fatalities in other parts of the world, are being identified by some countries in the region,” it said. Fentanyl is one of a number of opioids responsible for growing deaths of drug users in the United States.

“Aside from methamphetamine which is getting most of the attention because of the surge in seizures and street price drops, synthetic opioids and other drugs have also been found across the region,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. (VOA)

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Climate Change Affects Developing Countries the Most: UN

The African continent could leverage to its advantage in the global fight against the impacts of climate change

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Climate Change, Developing Countries
the least responsible countries suffer the most from the global threat that emanated from climate change. Pixabay

United Nations officials on Wednesday said developing nations were facing the brunt of climate change despite their little contribution to the problem.

A joint statement was made by Mary Robinson, Ireland’s former President and UN Special Envoy on El Nino and Climate, and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Vera Songwe during a climate-focused meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

Robinson said, “those who suffer the worst effects of climate change are often the least responsible for it”.

She called for the need for climate justice as the least responsible countries suffer the most from the global threat that emanated from climate change, Xinhua news agency reported.

Climate Change, Developing Countries
Developing nations were facing the brunt of climate change despite their little contribution to the problem. Pixabay

Robinson was appointed UN Special Envoy along with Macharia Kamau of Kenya in 2016 to provide the leadership required to tackle climate-related challenges.

ECA’s Songwe said the African continent could leverage to its advantage in the global fight against the impacts of climate change.

“We didn’t create it, but we can profit the most from it. A climate smart economy is an extremely profitable economy. It’s an economy that will create more jobs and leave us cleaner and better,” Songwe said.

Mithika Mwenda, Executive Director of the Pan African Justice Alliance, said during the discussion climate justice was not getting the priority it deserved from governments.

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“Africa is most affected and impacted by climate change, but we don’t do much about it. We need strong governance systems to move the climate discourse and actions forward,” he said.

He urged the ECA to fortify collaboration with the African Union and the African Development Bank in line with the ClimDev-Africa programme that’s mandated by African leaders to create a solid foundation for Africa’s response to climate change. (IANS)