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UNODC World Drug Report 2021
As per the recently published UNODC World Drug Report, drug markets have swiftly resumed operations after the initial disruption at the onset of the pandemic; a burst that has triggered or accelerated certain pre-existing trafficking dynamics across the global drug market. Among these are- increasingly larger shipments of illicit drugs, a rise in the frequency of overland and water-way routes used for trafficking, and an upsurge in the use of contactless methods to deliver drugs to end- consumers. Rapid technological innovations, combined with the agility and adaptability of those using new platforms to sell drugs and other substances, is leading to a globalized market where all drugs are more easily available and accessible. This, in turn, could trigger accelerated changes in patterns of drug use and entail public health implications. The resilience of drug markets during the pandemic has demonstrated once again the ability of traffickers to adapt quickly to changed environments and circumstances.
The UNODC report has devoted a chapter on Afghanistan. It states that Afghanistan reported a 37 percent increase in the amount
of land used for illicit cultivation of opium poppy during 2020, when compared with that in the previous year. It was the third highest figure ever recorded in the country and accounted for 85 per cent of the global total of opium production in 2020. The increase follows a trend that has seen the global area under opium poppy cultivation rise over the past two decades, particularly after 2009. Afghanistan is also now becoming a major source for methamphetamine in the region. In neighbouring Iran, the proportion of Afghan-origin methamphetamine seized increased from less than 10 per cent in 2015 to around 90 per cent in 2019. Seizures in Afghanistan increased almost sevenfold in 2019 as compared to that in 2018. This came even as air strikes in Taliban-held border regions wiped out dozens of methamphetamine laboratories in a single day in 2019. The expansion of methamphetamine manufacturing adds complexity to the illicit drug economy of Afghanistan and increases the threat to countries in the region and beyond. Political stability could further increase the vulnerability of local communities to both the production of

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