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Afghan opium production levels top world

June 26, 2013 at 9:08 AM

VIENNA, June 26 (UPI) -- More than 70 percent of the world's illicit production of opium last year came from cultivators in Afghanistan, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said.

"Afghanistan's large-scale drugs economy is another source, driver and symptom of instability," U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan Jan Kubis said in a statement Wednesday. "This illicit production and trade simultaneously funds insurgent activity and if not curtailed, threatens to undermine Afghanistan's institutions, security and economic self-sufficiency."

UNODC said 74 percent of the world's illicit opium production came from Afghanistan, making it the world leader for 2012.

Nearly 1 million Afghans are affected in some way by drug use. The UNODC's 2013 World Drug Report said more than 700,000 Afghans have no access to drug treatment, suggesting opium production has more than just an impact on national security.

The report said plant disease in Afghanistan hurt opium production last year. Globally, the amount of land used for opium poppy cultivation increased, though yields in 2012 were 40 percent less than the peak year of 2007.

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