NGOs Major Partners in Iran’s War on Drugs

NGOs Major Partners  in Iran’s War on DrugsNGOs Major Partners  in Iran’s War on Drugs

International collaboration and strong will is the only way to purge the global threat of drugs, said Iran’s Anti-Narcotics Police Chief Ali Moayedi.

“Iran is always willing to cooperate with the international community and has welcomed collaboration in drug demand reduction and counter-narcotic programs,” he said at the opening ceremony of the conference of West and Central Asia Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Drug Demand and Harm Reduction.

The conference was held Tuesday in Tehran and attended by representatives from several member states, IRNA reported.

Establishment of the network was the culmination of the Second Regional Consultative Meeting Towards Networking of Drug Demand and Harm Reduction NGOs in February 2014. It was jointly organized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Office in Iran (under the Regional Program for Afghanistan and the Neighboring Countries), the Iran Drug Control Headquarters (IDCH), and the Iranian NGO ‘Rebirth’.

The objective was to contribute to the development and implementation of more effective drug-related policies and practices in a region severely challenged by the problem of illicit drug use and its consequences, including social harm and diseases such as HIV.

Moayedi, who is also the deputy head of the IDCH, highlighted the importance given by Iran to the work of NGOs in addressing drug problems and challenges, saying that NGOs account for 80% of drug demand reduction activities in the country.

“Island mentality and individual action will not yield results in the war on drugs. It must go beyond national borders and be part of a global movement,” he said in an oblique reference to the lack of cooperation by western countries.

A 2015 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates the worth of heroin and opium trafficked from the world’s largest producer Afghanistan to western Europe at $28 billion annually.

  Main Conduit for Afghan Narcotics

Iran has been used as the main conduit for smuggling Afghan drugs to crime syndicates in Europe. Iranian authorities seize about 30% of the estimated 155 tons of heroin and opium entering the country each year largely destined for the western world.

Despite high economic and human costs, the government has been actively fighting drug trafficking over the past three decades and has spent more than $700 million to seal the 900-km porous border with Afghanistan and prevent the transit of narcotics destined for Europe, Arab states and Central Asia.

The global war on the drug trade spearheaded by Iran, has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 Iranian police officers over the past 34 years.

With greater cooperation among NGOs, the major targets can be achieved, Moayedi said.

The IDCH has been encouraging the involvement of NGOs in drug demand reduction and harm issues, and they are working in areas of demand reduction and HIV control, he said, emphasizing the importance of synergy and the necessity of facilitating regional cooperation between all the players working on drug demand and harm reduction.

“Over the last 15 years, the country has made significant achievements in programs to contain the problems of drugs and HIV in the various areas of prevention, treatment and care in communities and prisons,” the police chief said.

At the recent IDCH session with President Hassan Rouhani, two proposals were finalized and passed.

“The first is to be implemented over a short-term period and includes plans to beef up borders, coordination among executive bodies to round up junkies from streets and secure a safe urban environment.”

The second is long-term and deals with preventive and demand reduction policies.