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Australian regional initiative on drugs



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M ED IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA 77 9 June 1998

AUSTRALIAN REGIONAL INITIATIVE ON DRUGS

Today, I am announcing a new Safer Borders, Safer Streets initiative to support drug control in the Asia-Pacific region. This is part of Australia’s commitment given at the UN Special Session on Drugs.

I welcome the UN’s comprehensive approach to the drugs problem which addresses not only controls on the supply of drugs but also places increased emphasis on demand reduction and alternative development programs.

The e limination of illicit drugs remains the first and ultimate goal but the reality is that drugs continue to reach those who are prepared to risk their health and often their lives using drugs. Australia is pleased to endorse the UN declaration on the guiding principles o f demand reduction. This is an indispensable element in tackling the world drug problem.

The UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge the challenges facing all countries and to commit to increased efforts to address the drug problem.

The safer border, safer streets initiative is a three pronged program that will allocate almost $A15 million for increased financial support for activities in the Asia-Pacific region. The initiative includes:

• SA5.7 million to develop an Asia-Pacific regional law enforcement cooperation programme and a further $ A 6.1 million to extend Australia’s law enforcement liaison office network in the region. In addition $A 1 million over four years will be provided to the Secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering to help combat this growing regional phenomenon.

. $A1 million for eradication and alternative development efforts in the M ekong Basin region o f Southeast Asia.

• $A2 million for drug related activities in the region, as part of an overall commitment of approximately $A20 million for treatment, prevention and education o f people with HIV/AIDS and those high risk groups such as intravenous drug users. This will focus, in particular, on health projects targeted at reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. In addition, we will increase our financial support for activities to m in im is the adverse effects of illicit drugs by over $A1 million to $A6.7 million.

- these funds will be disbursed in partnership with regional governments, the UNDCP and the WHO

Me.dia releases and sp eech es are available from DFAT via the internet, http://www.dfat.gov.au/