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EU and UNDP help Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus reduce illicit drug trafficking

KYIV, 25 February 2009 – Drug control Conventions have reached major achievements, but face many challenges, the participants in a joint EU–UNDP Final Conference of the Programme for the Prevention of the Drug Abuse and the Fight against Drug Trafficking in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova (BUMAD) stated today in Kyiv.

Reinforcing capacity development and regional cooperation in addressing drug problems in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova are the focus of the today’s international conference.

It is now one hundred years since the International Opium Commission met in Shanghaifrom 5 to 26 February 1909, setting afoot the development of an international drug control system. The initiative for organising the Commission came from US President Theodore Roosevelt's government, which in 1908 had canvassed Far Eastern and interested European powers.

One hundred years ago, yet the drug abuse has been recognised as a growing problem and a dangerous challenge to human development at the national and international levels. With over 95 per cent of the world’s states being party to the international drug control Conventions, multilateral drug control should be considered one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. However, to pretend that challenges do not exist would be to deny reality, as it was said during a joint EU–UNDP Closing Conference of the BUMAD Programme.

According to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the challenges remain, particularly on access to controlled medicines, inconsistent application of provisions over cannabis, and drug abuse prevention.

Moreover, UN estimates that there are still 25 million problem drug users in the world, while the global narcotics trade is valued at some USD 320 billion.

Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, along with other European countries, are affected by the drug abuse problem to a significant level. In order to cope effectively with the negative consequences of the drug abuse and illicit trafficking the sustained political commitment and resource allocation at the national and international level is required, as many experts agree.

Since 2003, in accordance with the agreements between the Governments of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova, the European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme have been implementing the Programme of Assistance for the Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova (BUMADProgramme). The Programme assistance budget amounted to USD 11 million in all three countries.

According to Ambassador Jose Manuel Pinto Teixeira, the Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Ukraine, BUMAD Programme achieved close cooperation between EU services and services in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.

He also added that “the results of BUMAD activities made a significant contribution into the improvement of national measures regarding illicit drug trafficking issues”. “Particularly, drug monitoring centres were created in the framework of the Programme, which play an important role in drug data collection and policy development, targeted at illicit drug trafficking and drug abuse prevention. The collection of statistical data and its further analysis have been harmonized with the approach used in the European Union, which now enable all sides to cooperate closely on the same level in the future”, he added.

Moreover, the Programme has been implemented in a rather holistic manner. As Francis O’Donnell, UN System Coordinator in Ukraine, said, UNDP, being the programme’s implementing partner in the three participating countries, approached the drug–related problems in broader human security and development context. This type of approach is more complex and needs international coordination, but as BUMAD’s achievements show, it yields sustainable benefits.

At the same time O’Donnell underlined, that despite solid positive changes, the scope of unresolved issues remained quite wide.

“All of this makes all interested parties believe that further support to the Programme’s past initiatives would guarantee invaluable contribution to global drug control efforts”, O’Donnell said and added that despite the Porgramme’s closure, the UN remained closely involved in addressing drug–related issues and continued offering wide–ranging assistance in fighting illicit drug trafficking in Ukraine.   

The UN Coordinator in Ukraine stated that according to his estimates one should expect the situation with illicit drug trafficking and drug abuse might worsen very soon. He explained that this could be a negative consequence of the current economic recession, which might lead many people into a drug dependence trap by trying to hide from reality through alcohol and drug abuse, while international organized crime is bound to boost up the proposal of drugs in illicit markets.

The Programme’s Partners in all countries are governmental and non–governmental institutions, responsible for drug demand and drug supply reduction measures, such as the Ministries of Health, the Ministries of Interior, Security Services, Customs Services, Border Guard Services and numerous NGOs.

For instance, Ilie Jecicov, Head Anti–Drug Department at the Ministry of Interior of Moldova says: "With BUMAD support, we have managed to strengthen technical and institutional capacities of the force bodies in fighting drugs. We also have a very good cooperation with NGOs in the area of fighting drugs".

Speaking of BUMAD’s contribution to the regional drug control system, Oleg Shutyak, First Deputy Head of Drug Enforcement Department at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, said that BUMAD made a considerable contribution to reducing drug abuse in Ukraine. For instance he said that over the Programme’s implementation period, in three years, the Ukrainian services seized over 1 tonne of Afghan–made heroine – the amount which exceeds all other heroine seizures, which were recorded not only in Ukraine’s history, but in the USSRas well.

He called on EU and UNDP to continue providing technical and financial assistance to Ukrainian drug enforcement institutions, as international cooperation plays crucial role in fighting organized crime and drug trafficking.

The Conference was also attended by Antonius Broek, UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus, and Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Moldova.

The results of BUMAD Programme contributed to the improvement of the national response to drug problems in all three countries. Significant progress was achieved in establishing national institutions and developing capacities which did not exist before. Specifically, BUMAD experts contributed to the establishment of the Drug Monitoring Centres in all three countries, which play an important role in collecting data on drugs and shaping policies aimed at fighting the drug abuse and trafficking.

In Moldova, the best UN and EU expertise was shared with local counterparts in adjusting the national framework to meet the requirements of the UN and other international conventions on preventing drugs abuse and trafficking.

Prevention work was carried out through education and awareness including support to about 50 former drug users to reintegrate into society providing them with a chance to develop skills and earn a decent living.

As a result of BUMAD activities, Police Academies in the respective countries set up new drug abuse prevention courses, while numerous NGOs in the region introduced innovative response to drug abuse (aka “continuum of care”).

In addition, in Ukrainethe basic “Law on Drugs” was amended in accordance with internationally adopted standards. The law enforcement operations were enhanced by the creation of interagency drug database for intelligence support of law enforcement agencies. The Ukrainian experts developed unified drug research methodologies in order to enhance the quality of forensic expertise. Finally, customs risk analysis teams were created in the seaports of Odessa and Illichivsk.

The current progress of BUMAD, as well as the overall drug situation in the three countries, show that despite certain positive changes achieved by the Programme the scope of unresolved problems remains significant. Specifically further guidance is needed for establishing of customs information exchange system in the Black Sea region (similar to MARINFO in the EU) as well as enhancing of national forensic systems and development of the police drug intelligence databases. Also the National Monitoring Centres on Drugs (NOD) require further support in applying key European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) indicators. 

All this makes all parties involved strongly believe that further support of initiated and currently ongoing activities under BUMAD Programme will ensure valuable contribution to the international anti–drug efforts. The participants in the final conference which opened today in Kyiv are going to sum up the achievements and lessons learned of the Programme, discuss the ideas and plans for further development of the initiatives launched with the Programme support.

Drug situation in Ukraine

According to a study evaluating the number of groups most at risk of HIV infection in Ukrainein 2004–2005 in 14 regions of Ukraine, the numbers of injecting drug users on the national level amounted to between 324,000 to 424,700. Yet, experts speak of higher estimates – 425,000 persons (about 1.3 per cent of the population within 15–64 age group).

In 2008, the total number of IDUs in the total quantity of HIV infected persons was 72,669 (68,38 per 100,000).

In 2008, 173,594 drug users were on record at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (152,000 in 2007).

The most spread drugs in Ukraineare opiates, marijuana and synthetic psychotropic substances.

Drug seizures (Official Sources – law enforcement agencies):

YEAR  Heroin, kg  Cocaine, кg  Synthetic drugs and psychotropic  substances, kg 
2006  46,98  1,41  14,28 
2007  412  19,3  5,1 
2008  216  42,5  31,6 

Drug situation in Moldova

According to Moldova’s National Drugs Observatory, in 2007¹, on the right bank of the Dniester River, there were 3,401 IDUs officially registered by the Narcologic Service with 31.1 years mean age.

At the end of 2008, on the right bank of DniesterRiver, there were 555 people in ARV treatment, out of them 244 most probably were infected through injecting drugs. The total quantity of HIV infected persons amounted to 792 newly registered HIV cases in 2008, out of them 135 were registered in IDUs. As the Ministry of Interior of Moldova reports, the number of registered drug related crimes, reached 2,105 drug related crimes in Republic of Moldova (right bank of the Dniester River) – [2,147 and 2,087 drug related crimes in 2007 and 2006 respectively].

The most spread drugs in Moldova are marijuana/hashish in general population (3.4% in 15 – 64 years old according to General Population Survey conducted in 2008) and Extract of Opium in IDUs (84.3% according to results of BSS conducted in 2007 among clients of Harm Reduction Programmes)

Drug seizures in Moldova (Official Sources — Moldova’s National Drugs Observatory):

Drugs Amount seized
Poppy straw 79,000 g
Marijuana 263,000 g
Acetylated opium 2.810 l
Ecstasy 218 pills 
Codeine 0
Ephedrine 0
Tramadol 0
Amphetamine, Methamphetamine 482 g
Barbiturates 0
Poppy plants 15,768,000 g
Hemp plants 8 ,845,000 g
Heroin 207, 926 g
Cocaine 5, 551 g
Hashish 1,275 g
LSD 231 strips

Drug situation in Belarus

According to the Narcological Service of the Belarusian Ministry of Health, the number of registered users of psychoactive substances from 2000–2008 increased 2.8 times. As of late 2008, there were 10,467 registered drug users and addicts. Yet, the experts’ estimate of intravenous drug users in Belarus at the end of 2008 was 76,000 persons, or approximately 1.3% of the country’s population between the ages of 15 and 54 (source: Belarusian Monitoring Centerfor Drugs and Drug Addictions).

The Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the National Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health under the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus reported that in 2008, as in previous years, the majority of HIV infection cases was observed among persons using drugs intravenously.

The structure of the drug market in Belarus reflects changes that have taken place in the structure of global trafficking routes. Belarus finds itself now at the intersection of plant drug routes running in parallel from Southeast Asia and Central Asia to destinations in Western and Northern Europe, which include certain synthetic drugs and psychotropic substances trafficked eastward. Due to the “transparency” of its external borders, especially the border with the Russian Federation, the territory of Belarus continues to play a significant role in drug trafficking.

Opiates, marijuana and synthetic psychotropic substances are most spread in Belarus.

Drug seizures according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs:

YEAR  Total, kg  Marijuana, kg  Poppy straw, kg  Heroine, kg  Synthetic drugs and psychotropic  substances, kg 
2007  724  139  277  3.12  11 
2008  478  144  423  0.695  130 

For further information, please, contact Sergiy Grytsenko, Communications Officer, UNDP Ukraine tel.: (+380 44) 254–00 35

¹No data available for 2008

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