Amidst a sharp rise in drug addict numbers in the country’s cities, including Kabul, officials on Monday said that they have rounded up at least 200 drug addicts in the capital alone in the hope of reducing drug addiction.
The Deputy Minister of Interior for Counter-Narcotics affairs, Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, told TOLOnews that drug dealing in the capital poses a threat to the general population.
“Most of the street dealers are women and children and it is difficult to recognize them or charge them for drug dealing,” he said.
When asked about the exact number of drug dealers in Kabul, Ahmadi said “the exact figure cannot be guessed but I mentioned that we are serious this time and we have increased our focus on this issue.”
According to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), there is an estimated 2,000 drug addicts living without shelter in Kabul, and the 200 that were rounded up are part of them.
One of addicts taken into custody, told TOLOnews: “The main reason is joblessness that pushes people, mostly youth, to embrace drug addiction, but when there is work such a thing will not happen.”
Deputy Minister of Public Health, Najia Tariq meanwhile said: “We have treated at least 6,000 drug addicts which will be rounded up in Pul-e-Sokhta area in 25 phases,”
There are however also concerns about the increase in drug addiction among women and children – which is also leading to an increase in drug prices, officials say.
According to officials, the Counter Narcotics Department of the Interior Ministry has arrested over 900 drug dealers in Kabul over the past three months – 80 of them have been held in the past two weeks.
This comes just weeks after Kabul Police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi’s said that they will round up all drug addicts on the streets of Kabul city and that they will also arrest drug dealers and alcohol sellers.
“We are assuring the country’s residents that we will gather all addicts from around the city in the upcoming weeks. This work is easy for us but a lack of treatment facilities for these people is a big issue,” he said.
At the time, he said police will also arrest those illegally selling Afghan security force uniforms and illegal arms dealers – both of which are used by insurgents.
“We will also arrest those who are selling security force uniforms and weapons and we will begin a serious program to prevent insurgents from using the security forces’ uniforms and weapons,” he added.
TOLOnews recently reported on the growing number of homeless people and drug addicts in Kabul – many of which are women and children. Footage broadcast on TOLOnews shows groups of people ravaged by opium and other street drugs and portrays their desperate plight.
Afghanistan remains at the top of the list in terms of poppy cultivation – which is used to produce heroin – a highly-addictive street drug.
Although just a small portion of the poppy cultivated is used by drug users in Afghanistan, recent reports state that the total number of drug users in the country is about three million.