Symposium on the Impact of Drugs on Humans and Communities – by CDO, Iraq

Our member, the Civil Development Organization (CDO), has held a Symposium on the Impact of Drugs on Humans and Communities on February 23rd, 2022. The symposium was well attended and later summarised by the organisation. The agenda and its summary are added below:

10:30-10:35 – Opening the Symposium and Welcome Word

10:30-10:35 – Speech by Dr Alan Faraidon Ali (President of Sulaimaniya Polytechnic University – SPU)
Welcoming participants and highlighting the importance of the university and academia in the elimination of drug-related issues.

10:35-10:40 – Speech by Mr Bakhtyar Ahmed (General Director of CDO)
Welcoming participants and showcasing the importance of the organization’s activities and methods to eliminate problems due to drug issues in the community.

10:40-10:45 – Speech by Dr Haval Abubakir (Governor of the Sulaymaniyah Province)
Thanked CDO, WFAD, and SPU for working on these important issues and showed support in working on combating drug-related issues in the community.

10:45-10:50 – Speech by Ms Regina Mattsson (Secretary-General of the WFAD)
Ms Regina Mattsson showcased the activities of WFAD. Her presentation was pre-recorded and Kurdish translation was made available.

10:50-11:00 – Memorandum of Understanding between CDO and SPU
The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding is to provide a framework of cooperation and facilitate collaboration between both parties on a non-exclusive basis in areas of common interest.

11:00-11:15 – Speech by Dr Awat Omar Qadir (Judge of Sulemani Security Investigation)
The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament passed the law on January 12th, 2022, with 88 lawmakers voting in favour. The law aims to reduce the trade and use of narcotics, combat and punish drug dealing, and help addicts. The sale and consumption of any narcotics or controlled medications are strictly forbidden in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. The indicators are frightening and we need effective measures to be taken to curb this threat as, unfortunately, Iraqi Kurdistan largely acts as a transit route for narcotics coming from Iran and Central Asia to Europe, with limited but growing domestic consumption.

11:15-11:30 – Speech by Mr Marewan Ali (the Director of the Directorate of combatting drugs in Sulemani Asaish Security)
Mr Marewan Ali mentioned the elevation of data on drug-related issues until 2022. He also revealed that they had confiscated 230 kilograms of various narcotics in 2019 and had also seized over 9,215 opium pills. Arrest records show that around 5000 people were arrested in the northern region in 2021 in connection with drug trafficking and drug abuse offences. This is more than double the number of arrests recorded in 2020.

11:30-10:45 – Speech by Mr Mula Najmaldeen Qadir Rahem (MA Degree in Islamic science and member of Kurdistan religious Union in Sulemani Province)
Mr Mula Najmaldeen Qadir Rahem highlighted understanding religion in matters related to the worship of prayer, fasting, and perpetual public. Religious laws will affect behaviour and social life. Additionally, in some religions (especially the Islam religion), drinking alcohol and using drugs are forbidden.

11:45-12:00 – Speech by Dr Afram Muhamad Hassan (PhD in Psychological Disease and Member of Psychiatrists Committee in Europe)
Dr Afram Muhamad Hassan showcased that substance abuse and mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are closely linked, although one does not necessarily directly cause the other. Abusing substances, such as marijuana or methamphetamine, can cause prolonged psychotic reactions, while alcohol can make depression and anxiety symptoms worse. Signs and symptoms were also briefly discussed.

12:00-13:00 – Questions, Answers, and Recommendations
The following recommendations were given:
– It is important for organisations, religious figures, and media outlets to spread awareness about the risks and dangers associated with drugs and for relevant authorities to implement the law.
– A special centre for treating patients recovering from addiction will open in coordination with the KRG’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
– A tighter border control is needed.

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