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Afghan Government Bans NGO Working To Legalize Poppy Cultivation

BBC

October 16, 2006

Text of report by Afghan independent Tolo TV on 15 October

[Presenter] Deputy Minister of Interior for Counter-Narcotics Gen Mohammad Daud Daud says the ministry has ordered the closure of Senlis Council offices in Afghanistan in an attempt to prevent the NGO from campaigning for legalization of poppy cultivation in the country. There are meanwhile reports of a joint plan developed by the ministries of interior and counter-narcotics to prevent poppy cultivation in the autumn season.

[Correspondent] High level of insecurity has caused a 75 per cent increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan this year.

Addressing a news conference in Kabul, Gen Mohammad Daud Daud said the Senlis Council had been one of the causes of increase in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. The NGO has been campaigning to legalize poppy cultivation in the country.

[Gen Mohammad Daud] Only in Helmand, we can see a 42-per-cent increase in poppy cultivation. Nahr-e Saraj, Nad-e Ali, and Nawa districts of Helmand make up 20 per cent of the entire poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. We believe insecurity is one of the causes of increase in the level of cultivation, but due to the low capacity of police and other security forces, we have not been able to improve security to help properly prevent poppy cultivation in some provinces.

[Correspondent] Gen Daud said implementation of the new plan for prevention of poppy cultivation in the autumn season this year has already started in 103 districts in 11 provinces. According to the deputy minister, the government will hold meetings with tribal elders with the help of governors and other provincial authorities, and take measures to provide people with alternative livelihoods, in addition to other serious measures aimed at preventing poppy cultivation.

According to Gen Daud, deployment of 11,000 auxiliary forces to some restive provinces, where drugs smuggling is considered to be on the rise, is one of the measures adapted by the government.

Officials of the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics warned that local officials would be dismissed if they show no cooperation in the implementation of the plan.

Source: Tolo TV, Kabul, in Dari 1330 gmt 15 Oct 06

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