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Central Asia: United Nations Concerned About Drug Smuggling

Prague, 5 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - The United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) has launched a nearly $2 million project to attack the problem of drug crop cultivation.

At a conference in Tashkent yesterday, U.N. experts also expressed concern about the emergence of new drug trafficking routes across Central Asia, especially through Uzbekistan.

The program's regional official, Arkadius Maisik, said drugs from Afghanistan flow to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States -- or to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Turkey, and then into the rest of Europe.

The new U.N. project will cover Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan is not included, because the area of land under drug crop cultivation there, according to Uzbek officials, has shrunk from more than 400 hectares in 1994 to less than five hectares in 1996. But, by comparison, Maisik said the area under drug crop cultivation in Tajikistan increased three-fold last year.