Lebanon Pledges To Eradicate Drug Farms

Lebanon Pledges To Eradicate Drug Farms
Posted by FoM on July 02, 2001 at 09:23:09 PT
By The Associated Press
Lebanon's government pledged Monday to wipe out the drug farms of northeastern Lebanon, but also criticized donor countries for not doing enough to alleviate the plight of farmers. "Lebanon will not allow hashish growing," Interior Minister Elias Murr said after a meeting with Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The government will put forth "within days" a plan to eradicate cannabis crop, he said. 
After a government crackdown at the end of Lebanon's civil war and pledges from abroad to help find alternative crops and compensation, farmers switched to legal crops. But most of the money failed to come through and the farmers have been returning to cannabis. Cannabis, which in Lebanon is usually made into hashish, can be seen growing in fields and along roads in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, particularly near the towns of Baalbek and Hermel. Murr said eradication of the crops would go hand in hand with an economic and social plan to alleviate the plight of farmers in the area. He did not elaborate. "We have to take into consideration the difficult economic circumstances of the farmers," Murr said, noting that donor countries were to blame for failing to make good on promises of compensation to the farmers. The Bekaa Valley was a major center for hashish processing and smuggling during the 1975-90 civil war, pumping about $500 million a year into the country's economy. With the postwar restoration of state authority, the government responded to international pressure by launching a seek-and-destroy campaign in 1995 with the aid of Syrian troops deployed in the area. In 1997, the United States removed Lebanon's name from a list of the world's top drug-producing countries. Lebanese officials say that of the dlrs 50 million pledged toward the anti-drug campaign from abroad, only about $7 million has been received and farmers have been threatening to revert to growing cannabis. Murr, however, distinguished between drug traffickers and farmers "who had no choice but to grow the narcotics to feed their children." He said the government has arrested 1,600 drug traffickers in the past six months but that the circumstances of the farmers will be taken into consideration in finding a solution to the problem. "We are not prepared to starve people to please anyone," he said. Source: CNN (US)Published: July 2, 2001Copyright: 2001 Cable News Network, Inc.Website: cnn.comRelated Articles:Hashish Grows Again in the Fields of Lebanon Crew Attacked in Lebanon's World of Cannabis in Lebanon Miss Lucre of Hashish CannabisNews Articles - Lebanon 
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