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    UNIS/NAR/1111
    8 June 2011

    Pope Benedict XVI and Head of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Discuss Drugs and Crime-related Social and Health Challenges

    VIENNA/VATICAN CITY, 8 June (UN Information Service) - The United Nations' lead anti-drug and crime official, Yury Fedotov, today met with Pope Benedict XVI as part of a visit to the Vatican to discuss some of the core issues currently affecting communities across the globe.

    With a focus on drug prevention, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, crime eradication, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, the audience with the head of the Catholic Church aimed to elaborate and expand on synergies with the Church.

    Commenting on the growing partnership that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) enjoys with religious organizations and noting their importance as partners in promoting drug- and crime-free societies, Mr. Fedotov stated: "With over a billion followers, the Catholic Church - as with all religions - has a special link to people across the globe and is in a unique position to spread key messages in helping prevent drug use and crime. UNODC looks forward to expanding our relationship with all religions as we work together in addressing social and health challenges of drugs and crime in every part of the world."

    Over the past two days UNODC's Executive Director also met with senior Vatican leaders Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for the Relations with States and Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to elaborate on these key topics. Mr. Fedotov also engaged the Church on additional areas including the importance of inter-faith dialogue in a bid to look at root causes of terrorism across the world.

    Following his audience with Pope Benedict XVI, the Executive Director noted the need to further the links between the efforts of the Catholic Church and UNODC in reaching out to the world's most vulnerable whose lives are adversely affected by criminals every day, particularly in the developing regions of Africa and South America.

    Working with faith-based organizations is an important aspect of UNODC's frontline work and a key component of the Office's pursuit of an inclusive, community-driven approach towards tackling global social ills. Partnerships with organizations across the religious spectrum are essential in working to improve prison conditions, address HIV and AIDS, reduce poverty, end human trafficking and promote a corruption-free world.

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    For more information please contact

    In Rome, Italy:

    Daniela Salvati
    Liaison Office, United Nations Interregional Crime and Research Institute (UNICRI)
    Telephone: (+39 06) 678-9907
    Mobile: (+39-339) 683-5836
    Email: salvati[at]unicri.it

    In Vienna, Austria:

    Alun Jones
    Chief of Communications and Advocacy
    Telephone: (+43 1) 26060 5726
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5726
    Email: alun.jones[at]unodc.org