Drug Use in Iraq Growing

With a lack of security and weak border patrols, drug trafficking and use is on the rise in Iraq, the Boston Globe reported Aug. 28.

According to senior officials with the United Nations drug-monitoring agency, heroin and marijuana are moving into Iraq through its eastern border with Iran. In addition, gangs are trafficking illegal drugs from Central Asia through Iraq's Kurdish area in the north and the southern port of Umm Qasr.

Although Iraq is currently being used as a route to get the drugs to Turkey, the Balkans and Western Europe, Brian Taylor, chief of the anti-trafficking section of the United Nations office, said the availability of drugs is causing misuse problems in Iraq.

"If Iraq is increasingly used as a transit country, it's likely there will be a spillover effect with local use," Taylor said.

Iraqi doctors report an increase in the misuse of pills and inhalants, many of which are purchased illegally on the street.

According to Dr. Hashim H. Zainy, director of the IBN Rushd Hospital, the nation's largest psychiatric facility, addiction cases have grown by 75 percent between February and July of this year.

"I still think it's underreported," he added.

Charles Heatly, senior spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, said coalition officials are too busy with immediate needs, such as providing water, electricity and security, to focus on drug issues.

"It's perhaps not at the top of our list of priorities at the moment," he said.

Source: www.jointogether.org

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