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UN Advocates Continued International Cooperation to Tackle Drug Trade

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres has advocated for continued international cooperation to curb illicit drug trade and hold accountable those who profit human misery.

Guterres, in his message on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Sunday also said science-based treatment and support services must be strengthened for drug users, while treating them as victims who need treatment rather than punishment, discrimination and stigma.

His message read: “On this International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, we renew our commitment to ending this scourge and supporting those who fall victim to it.

“This includes non-discriminatory policy solutions centred around people, health and human rights, underpinned by strengthened international cooperation to curb the illicit drug trade and hold accountable those who profit from human misery.”

He added that: “We must also strengthen science-based treatment and support services for drug users, and treat them as victims who need treatment rather than punishment, discrimination and stigma — including treatment for those living with infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.”

He noted that: “We cannot allow the world’s drug problem to further shadow the lives of the tens of millions of people living through humanitarian crises.

On this important day, let us commit to lifting this shadow once and for all, and giving this issue the attention and action it deserves.”

He said this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking shines a spotlight on the impact of drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises, insisting that: “Conflicts, climate disasters, forced displacement and grinding poverty create fertile ground for drug abuse — with COVID-19 making a bad situation even worse. At the same time, people living through humanitarian emergencies are far less likely to have access to the care and treatment they need and deserve.”

He lamented that: “Meanwhile, criminals are profiting from people’s misery, with cocaine production at record highs, and a five-fold increase in seizures of methamphetamines and a near-quadrupling of amphetamine seizures over the last decade.”

In a separate message, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly, said the harms of illicit drug use can affect anyone, but they often have the deepest impact on those in crisis, noting that the

pandemic undermined physical and mental health, strained healthcare systems, and disrupted drug treatment and services.

He said: “Instability from Ukraine to Afghanistan to Africa and beyond has increased the number of people in need of emergency assistance. The industry of illicit drugs continues to ramp up during these challenging times.”

Waly disclosed that: “In 2020, more than 280 million people around the world used drugs.  Seizures of synthetic drugs have multiplied in the last ten years, while the opioid crisis in North America claims more lives every day, and non-medical use of tramadol continues to endanger people in Africa and the Middle East.”

He said: “Even as we work for long-term, sustainable solutions, there are people who need urgent access to treatment and care, now.

“We need to reach those who are most difficult to reach, because they need us the most: people in refugee camps and humanitarian settings; people at risk of being left behind as a result of the pandemic; and people facing barriers of stigma and discrimination.

“Women are among the foremost victims of conflict and crisis, and they often face greater barriers to treatment for drug use disorders.”

He decried that: “In some parts of the world, the proportion of women among treated patients is below ten per cent.

We need to ensure access to care for all, including in emergencies.”

He said: “We also need to ensure that controlled medicines are available for pain relief around the world, and in humanitarian settings.”

Waly assured that: “At the UN Office on Drugs and Crime we are committed to providing care and support to the people affected by illicit drugs, no matter the circumstances,” insisting that: “Everyone has a role to play, from governments to civil society to individuals, in bringing the necessary attention and resources to this issue, and we stand ready to work with all of you.”

He advised that: “Let us show those who need us that we care, by providing the care that they need in these times of crisis.”

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

from Global – Arise News

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