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Ukrainian war forces change route for drug smuggling, warns EU body

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is triggering changes in illegal drug smuggling routes to Europe, the European Narcotics Agency warned on Tuesday.

European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) director Alexis Goosdeel said the war had already had a “direct impact” on one of the heroin trafficking routes from Afghanistan that passed through Ukraine and other neighboring countries.

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“Drug traffickers have no interest in continuing to use this route,” he told an online press conference, adding that there were already signs of increased trafficking at borders. between Turkey and Bulgaria and Turkey and Greece.

Goosdeel said the conflict is also forcing smugglers using the Black Sea to opt for other routes, with some ports now out of reach. He said it was likely traffic would increase through the Greek islands and the southern Mediterranean.

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In its annual report, the Lisbon-based EMCDDA also said that many people who suffered “severe psychological stress” during the conflict could become more vulnerable to drug addiction problems, and that health services in European countries , particularly those bordering Ukraine, were likely to become more strained as drug users fleeing conflict need support.

“Continuity of treatment, language services and the provision of housing and social support are likely to be essential requirements,” he said, adding that even those who were not drug users were at risk.

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The agency also said the difficult financial situation in Afghanistan, which has been under Taliban control since August, could make drug revenues a bigger source of income and lead to an increase in heroin trafficking to Europe.

He said that despite the ban on the production, sale and trafficking of illicit drugs, poppy cultivation seemed to continue in Afghanistan.

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Post expires at 5:32pm on Friday June 24th, 2022