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    UNIS/NAR/1115
    18 July 2011

    United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Chief Highlights Robust Counter-Narcotics Responses on First Visit to Iran

    VIENNA/TEHRAN, 18 July (UN Information Service) - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Yury Fedotov arrived in Tehran today for a three-day official visit to Iran, which will also take him to the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a drugs rehabilitation centre.

    Mr. Fedotov will meet the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior officials. During these meetings, Mr. Fedotov will discuss counter-narcotics efforts, since Iran has the world's highest rate of seizures of opium and heroin and is contributing effectively to various regional mechanisms. With the President of Iran, he will discuss enhanced cooperation, increased technical dialogue with the international community and Iran's active participation in the forthcoming UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

    Iran accounts for the highest rate of opium seizures (89 per cent) in the world, as well as heroin/morphine (41 per cent), according to the UNODC World Drug Report 2011. With drug trafficking and related crimes presenting grave threats to regional and international security, Mr. Fedotov commended the Government for its commitment to curbing this trade. "The Islamic Republic of Iran has put in place one of the world's strongest counter-narcotics responses. Its counter narcotics efforts, good practices and concerns deserve the acknowledgment of the international community."

    The country devotes millions of dollars to counter-narcotics programmes and thousands of police officers are stationed at borders to repel traffickers. Sadly, the human toll is heavy: some 3,700 police officers have been killed in counter-narcotics operations and tens of thousands injured over the last thirty years.

    "I pay tribute to those who have perished and express my deepest sympathies to their families," said the Executive Director. "Iran often bears the brunt of the narcotics trade. The sacrifices made by these brave men are helping us all to stem the tide of drugs."

    Another tragic consequence of the drugs trade is the epidemic of HIV contracted through contaminated injecting equipment. Almost 70 per cent of the 22,000 detected HIV cases in Iran are injecting drug users.

    Iran faces one of the world's most serious addiction problems and is providing effective drug treatment and HIV control services to drug users through hundreds of NGOs working in the community and with special programmes for prisoners. The country has developed comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, and care and support services for injecting drug users.

    Mr. Fedotov recognized that the Government played an active role in supporting regional initiatives, including in the UNODC-brokered Triangular Initiative, which brings together the Ministers for drug control of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. Operations coordinated by the Joint Planning Cell have been encouraging - six tons of drugs seized as a result of 10 joint operations and intelligence sharing. "I encourage the three countries to step up dialogue, further cooperation and achieve even more impressive results," he said.

    This year, UNODC launched a four-year Country Programme of Technical Cooperation on Drugs and Crime developed in cooperation with the Iranian Drug Control Headquarters and international partners.

    "I am here to lend support for Iran's vital strategic role in curbing illicit drugs. I hope the international community will follow suit and support Iranian anti-narcotics measures," said the Executive Director.

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    For further information please contact:

    In Tehran, Iran:

    Antonino De Leo
    Resident Representative, UNODC Iran Country Office
    Telephone: (+98-21) 8887 8377-81 (ext. 116)
    Mobile: (+98-912) 217-1956
    Email: antonino.deleo[at]unodc.org

    In Vienna, Austria:

    Preeta Bannerjee
    Public Information Officer, UNODC
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5764
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5764
    Email: preeta.bannerjee[at]unodc.org