Middle East ‘top transit area for narcotics’
Manama, April 14, 2013
Countries in the Middle East continue to be transit areas for smuggling illicit drugs, particularly Iraq, said a (UN) United Nations report.
Seizures of the drug has increased in the region in the last year, and were reported in Bahrain and Yemen, the Gulf Daily News (GDN) quoted the latest International Narcotics Control Board 2012 report.
Increasing attempts to smuggle ecstasy into Bahrain have been foiled by authorities over the last year, noted the report.
The country recorded a rise in police confiscating the drug MDMA, known as ecstasy, from belongings of passengers, who travelled through Bahrain International Airport.
The drugs were smuggled in from Iran, Jordan and Thailand, the report stated.
It also said the region is still a prime market for drug traffickers peddling amphetamines such as counterfeit Captagon tablets, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
"MDMA (ecstasy) seizures in the region increased, according to Bahrain and Yemen," stated the report.
"In all cases, the drug was found in international airports in travellers' belongings. Origins cited included Iran, Jordan and Thailand."
In 2011, the volume of amphetamine seized in the Middle East reached 22 tonnes, which was nearly a quarter of the global amphetamine seizures.
A total of 11.4 tonnes were seized in Saudi Arabia - a rise from eight tonnes the previous year, while 3.8 tonnes were seized in Syria.
"Saudi Arabia constituted nearly 95 per cent of the total weight seized, followed by Jordan," it stated.
"Saudi Arabia continues to be the destination of choice and an important market for Captagon tablets, although they also continue to be a problem in other countries of the Gulf."
It also states an increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, which has been reported in a number of countries including Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE.
"The number and quantities of seizures of counterfeit pharmaceuticals worldwide increased significantly, rising from 1,398 seizures of a total of 11.7million tablets in 2010 to 1,861 seizures of a total of 26.7 million tablets in 2011," it added.
The International Narcotics Control Board suggested political instability and uncertain security situation in the region has provided grounds for drug trafficking and use.
"The uncertain security situation and political instability prevailing across the Arab world provides fertile ground for illicit activities that profit both regional and international criminal networks, resulting in increasing levels of illicit trafficking in drugs and persons and money-laundering," read the report.
Meanwhile, the UN report revealed several countries in the region showed high levels of opiate abuse, with a particular increase in heroin abuse.
It also highlighted the proliferation of drug treatment programmes in the region.
"Opioid substitution therapy is available only in Bahrain, Iran, Israel and Lebanon," it added.
The board also stated its satisfaction with some countries that have strengthened their treatment and rehabilitation centres, such as Jordan and Lebanon. – TradeArabia News Service