Afghanistan Housing 400,000 Football Fields Worth of Opium
Afghanistan is housing the equivalent of 400,000 football fields worth of opium fields, despite the United States having spent billions in taxpayer funds to combat the growth of illicit narcotics, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
While the United States has spent $8.4 billion on counter-narcotics programs in Afghanistan over the years, the country is estimated by the United Nations to have “roughly 500,000 acres, or about 780 square miles, devoted to growing opium poppy,” according to SIGAR head John Sopko, who criticized the billions in taxpayer money spent on these programs during a speech last week in New York City.
“As of this March, the United States has provided $8.4 billion-I repeat, billion-for counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan,” Sopko said, according to text of his remarks. The Pentagon “and State [Department] give information to SIGAR every quarter on their successes such as drug-treatment centers built, rehab workers trained, tractors donated (31 last year), alternative-livelihood programs executed, drug seizures, and so on. Yet, despite all this, we see record and rising levels of opium production.”