ZARANJ: As a result of continued deportation of Afghan refugees from Iran, the number of drug addicts in southwestern Nimroz province tripled this year, local officials said.
Nisar Ahmad Farahmand, an official of the provincial public health department, told Pajhwok Afghan News a detailed survey was yet to be launched to know the number of drug addicts, but their population was estimated around 30,000 individuals in Nimroz.
“Some people use drugs in their homes and do not want to be surveyed because they dislike to be known as drug addicts and that is a reason a detailed survey is yet to be launched,” he said.
Three years back, Nimroz public health officials had said around 12,000 people were addicted to drugs in the province.
On the other hand, officials say 70 percent of Afghans working in Iran were addicted to drugs before returning Afghanistan.
Farahmand said 10,000 addicts, including 2,000 of them women and children, were rehabilitated in government and private rehabilitation centers over the last few years.
In Nimroz, a 70-bed government clinic, two private shelters and one 20-bed private clinic for women have been active for rehabilitation of drug addicts.
According to the counternarcotics department of Nimroz, more than 11,000 hectares of land was cultivated with poppy crop in insecure areas of the province this year. The same area was cultivated with poppy last year as well.
Ghulam Nabi, one of the drug addicts in Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz, said: “I traveled to Iran for work, I slipped into drug addiction there, and then I was deported to Afghanistan. I have been living in Nimroz for the last four years. I can neither go home nor to Iran.”
The father of five children said: “I have several times approached the government for my rehabilitation, but no one cared about me.”
Aslam, another drug addict who is currently under treatment in a healthcare center, said he voluntarily visited the treatment center to return to his normal life and join his family again. He did not want to talk more.
Akhtar Mohammad, a resident of Zaranj city, said that easy access to drugs was one of the reasons behind increasing addiction.
He said the local administration was doing nothing to combat narcotics and had left drug sellers free of punishment and restrictions.
Deputy Nimroz governor Sardar Mohammad Hamdard acknowledged drug addiction was a major problem in Nimroz.
He said the local administration used all available resources for treatment of drug addicts and currently 400 addicts were under treatment in both government and private rehabilitation centers.
Hamdard asked the Ministry of Counter narcotic to cooperate with Nimroz administration in resolving the problem.