The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has partnered with Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to organize the Vanuatu National Drug Data Development Workshop that commenced yesterday (Monday) and will end today at the Melanesian Hotel.
The recently announced UNODC report, Transnational Organized Crime in the Pacific: A Threat Assessment (TOCTA), has found that Pacific island countries, including Vanuatu, are increasingly targeted by drug trafficking groups as transit and destination for a variety of drugs including synthetic drugs, particularly methamphetamine.
In his opening remarks, Senior Desk Officer for United Nations and Economic Relations at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr Dreli Solomon said that the workshop was aimed at strengthening Vanuatu’s monitoring and research capacity in the midst of growing illicit drug challenges in the country.
“The region continues to serve as an important transit for drug trafficking attempts, majority of which as destined to our neighboring countries such as New Zealand and Australia,” he said.
“One of the main challenges in preventing and combating the trafficking and use of illicit drugs in the PIC, including Vanuatu, is the lack of complete and accurate data, which is why we here today (for the workshop)- needless to say, more comprehensive data collection allows for more and better analysis and in turn should greatly improve our strategic responses to the challenges posed by drug trafficking.”
Mr Solomon said he was please to host the national workshop that will strengthen research and analysis so national authorities can better understand the situation in the region and pinpoint areas where interventions are most likely to achieve positive results.
The UNODC Inter-regional Coordinator, Mr Tun Nay Soe said the SMART program (UNODC Global Synthetic Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends) was established in 2008 to combat challenges faced with the growth of illicit drugs.
“This workshop is more about sharing information and finding where the gaps are and partners can step in to help- this is vital for use of law enforcement, forensic purposes and public health- the health and welfare of people is why we are fighting against illicit drug use,” he said.
The Drug data workshop was facilitated by UNODC Inter-regional Coordinator, Mr Tun Nay Soe and Mr Inshik Sim, Research Officer (Illicit Drugs) at UNODC and the participants were from Vanuatu Police Drugs Unit, Vanuatu Customs and Inland Revenue, Ministry of Health, TCU and NGO’s.
The workshop was funded by the Government of New Zealand,