Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

War against drugs must highlight addiction dangers, say experts

Police and academics meet in Dubai to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

Dr Abdul Qader Al Khayyat, chairman of the Erada Rehabilitation Centre, speaking to the guests in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Dr Abdul Qader Al Khayyat, chairman of the Erada Rehabilitation Centre, speaking to the guests in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Success in the war against drug abuse must involve raising public awareness of the dangers of addiction, UAE experts said on Tuesday.

Officials at a three-day forum marking International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking said a new focus was required to help tackle the issue.

Speaking at an event organised by Dubai's Erada Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation, senior police officers called for a more centralised, coordinated approach.

Academics also claimed policy should be inclusive of all community members rather than just those directly involved in combating illegal narcotics.

“Crackdowns on distribution including [drug] busts are not the only forms of fighting this crisis,” said Brigadier Eid Mohammed Thani Hareb, of Dubai Police anti-narcotics department.

“Our efforts in spreading awareness are broken and we need a nationwide effort to unite them.”

Established by the United Nations, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed every year on June 26.

The aim of the initiative is to “strengthen action and cooperation” to achieve the goal of a global “society free of drug abuse”.

The General Assembly believes the battle can be won through national institutions of criminal justice, health and social services working hand in hand to help create solutions.

Marwan Al Hel, head of the Department of Economics at Dubai Media Corporation, agreed. He also criticised the film industry for glorifying drug gangs and traffickers on the big screen.

“Teenagers and children are hugely influenced by characters such as Pablo Escobar,” he said, referring to the notorious Colombian drug lord who was believed to be one of the richest men in the world until his death in 1993.

Also speaking in Dubai, Huda Al Suwaidi, director of vulnerable groups at Dubai’s Community Development Authority, argued that a new, centralised body was required to oversee all of the UAE’s existing efforts to tackle the illegal narcotics industry.

“We all launch [our individual] campaigns but we need a professional department set up to evaluate if these programmes actually achieve their goals,” she said.

“And if not, we need advice and guidance on new approaches.”

Professor Abdullah Al Ansari, director of community research and awareness at the Erada centre, again called for a more coordinated approach.

“Raising awareness against drugs should be a sustainable process which doesn’t just revolve around certain occasions,” he said.

Updated: June 25, 2019 05:21 PM

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