Monday, March 03, 2008

Afghanistan: Opium Production and Death Toll on the Rise

In Afghanistan things seem to be getting worse according to opium production and death tolls. Opium used to create the world's supply of mainly heroin has been a major issue in Afghanistan for many years. Before the invasion of US and NATO led forces into Afghanistan in 2001/2 Afghanistan had been the lead supplier of Opium producing approximately 75% of the world's opium in 1999. However, come 2000 to early 2001 the Taliban reduced the cultivation drastically which was confirmed by the United Nations [1]. Since the coalition invasion however opium production has risen each year to formerly unknown heights. In 2007 93% of the worlds opium came from Afghanistan which is more then any country ever before. It is also estimated that 14% of Afghanis are participating in the cultivation of poppies [2] and a 78% unemployment rate. This is mainly due to the increasing instability in the country and the economic viability of opium which produces at least 4X or more profits in comparison to other crops.

The instability in Afghanistan is seen very blatantly through increasing mortality rates. 2007 also had the highest mortality rates of more then 6500 deaths by direct conflict 222 being outside forces [3] including 30 Canadians. Five more Canadian soldiers have died already this year including yesterday Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze, with no knowledge of how many more casualties will result during the spring and summer -- consistently the most violent time when the most Canadians have lost their lives.

Not to mention that though part of the reason for this war is "Women's Rights". The rights of women are worse then ever. A male journalism student recently looked at a article on the internet that said that women's subjection under Islam was actually a misrepresentation of the Prophet Mohammed's words and the Koran. This has resulted him having to go to court with a possible death sentence. To quote The Independent of London "Violent attacks against females, usually domestic, are at epidemic proportions with 87 per cent of females complaining of such abuse – half of it sexual. More than 60 per cent of marriages are forced. Despite a new law banning the practice, 57 per cent of brides are under the age of 16. The illiteracy rate among women is 88 per cent with just 5 per cent of girls attending secondary school. Maternal mortality rates – one in nine women dies in childbirth – are the highest in the world alongside Sierra Leone." [4] It seems that despite the overthrowing of the Taliban regime things in Afghanistan seven years later are worse not better.

Images of Opium Production and a recent Afghan Funeral from the BBC

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