DUSHANBE , April 12, Asia-Plus - 19 percent of Afghan drugs are traveling through the so-called northern route, which passes through Tajikistan , Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan , Mr. James Callahan, head of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Central Asia , remarked at a news conference in Dushanbe on April 11. 

The news conference followed a roundtable meeting on problems of border control and border cooperation.  The main objective of the roundtable meeting held in Dushanbe was in considering issues related to improvement and strengthening of border control and expansion of border cooperation between countries bordering on Afghanistan .  The meeting focused of problems of trafficking opiates to Central Asia ’s states.    

According to him,  The Central Asian states are not the only conduit for narcotics, with some 61 percent of Afghan drugs traveling through Iran .  

Iran plays an important role in the fight against the drug trafficking,” said Mr. Callahan, “At present UNODC is implementing a new program in Iran aimed at expansion of border cooperation with Afghan colleagues.”

He also noted that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan still covers considerable territories that evokes concern of international community.    

“We have no exact data about areas covered by poppy cultivation in Afghanistan now but it has been established that this year, they will have increased again,” Mr. Callahan stressed.  

According to him, it is necessary to involve Afghan farmers in cultivating alternative agricultural crops.  

In future, it is planned to work out a separate program for combating drug trafficking, increase number of liaison officers on the border as well as improve exchange of information between the countries of the region and Afghanistan , according to James Callahan.  .

Experts estimate that raw opium produced in Afghanistan last year is enough for production of some 500 tons of heroin.