Friday, August 10, 2007

Afghan opium war solvable


Red Pepper

1b Waterlow Road

London N19 5NJ

The article on Afghanistan’s opium jihad (p 16, July issue) showed the futility of our Governemnt’s policy in Afghanistan. Our troops in Afghanistan are being killed and injured in a valiant but useless attempt to stop farmers there from growing opium. In effect, we are asking the farmers to starve, or at least to plunge themselves and their families into deep poverty, by refraining from planting opium. The chances of success are not high, and the leaders of our army there are giving signals that confirm this.

At the same time, the incidence of cancer in Africa is rising according to a recent report in the BMJ, and people there are dying of cancer without having access to morphine or heroin.

Two problems, one solution: instead of burning the Afghan opium crops, we could purchase it from the farmers, process it, and make it available in Africa.

A think tank, the Senlis Council, are proposing poppy licensing. This will decriminalise poppy growing, and allow UN agencies to buy up the whole crop and turn it into medicine.

Any Red Pepper readers with access to paper and envelopes should ask the Ministers for Defence and Department for International Development why they will not consider this as an option.

Yours sincerely

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