International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking | 27 June 2020
‘Winning the fight against drugs requires deep political will and commitment across the board’
“We can and HAVE to win the fight against drugs but it requires deep political will and commitment across the board.”
This comes in a message from the chairperson of the Committee for Awareness, Resilience and Education against substance abuse (Care), Sarah Rene Zarqani, on the occasion of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking which was celebrated yesterday, June 26.
The full text of Mrs Rene Zarqani’s message reads:
“The world once again commemorates the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (June 26). It is one of the most important days that needs be marked by us as it is the still the greatest problem and scourge that this nation is facing.
“As a small vulnerable nation we have to weather many storms, the most recent being the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the country to a standstill. There is a storm that has been with us for the past 15 years and which shows no signs of abating or reducing but rather strengthening, which is the drug pandemic. A pandemic which kills millions every year, lays to waste precious lives, destroying our young generation, and bringing untold suffering to millions and millions of families. The destruction it is causing to our people locally is obvious for everyone to see.
“This year’s international theme is ‘better knowledge for better care’. While knowledge is power in fighting the enemy, there should be no excuse in today’s context to claim ignorance on the monstrous drug scourge that plagues our society and threatens our children’s existence both in the present and future. The question that should be on everyone’s lips today is, are we really doing everything possible as a country to remove this monster from our midst?
“2020 as we know has been a year like no other in recent memory because of COVID-19, bringing unimaginable suffering. The pandemic has demonstrated the interconnected nature of our world, that no one is safe until everyone is safe. It is showing us the need to act in solidarity, using well thought out curative as well as prevention strategies to save lives. This same concerted and serious commitment as a country has to be brought in the prevention of this great and long lasting scourge: the scourge of drugs, which is eating the vitals of our fragile society.
Drugs is bringing far more suffering and taking far more lives both directly and indirectly. Why we are not facing it with the same concerted and serious efforts at all levels of the executive, legislative and institutional. Why are we not inspired by the same commitment as with the COVID pandemic, to zealously come together to save our children and youth from the devastating effects of drugs?
“Care’s advocacy for prevention as the most viable long-term response to drugs, as part of a comprehensive integrated and balanced approach is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago when it started its trailblazing work, to which Care is still very committed. These prevention efforts should be visible in homes where parents learn how to better bring up their children, where risk factors are reduced and children feel safe and secure, in schools, neighbourhoods, communities, churches, and sport clubs etc, where children and youth are kept safe, protected, engaged and inspired.
“But the sad fact remains that drugs is available on every street corner. It is being normalised by people with vested interests and the population is getting increasingly complacent.
“Care is deeply concerned at the persistent push to normalise the drug culture in our small country, intentionally misleading our children and youth, initiating them into drugs at a very early age. Many parents are falling into the trap of down-playing the threats of drugs to our children. Care is also deeply concerned as well about the rampant availability of drugs and easy access to the deadly product to children and the general population. The serious gaps in tackling drug trafficking even though many traffickers are known, is also a big concern. What message does that send? When children get the impression that drug lords are heroes and law enforcement officers are villains, it is sending a dangerous and conflicting message to their minds.
“Care believes wholeheartedly that we can and HAVE to win the fight against drugs but it requires deep political will and commitment across the board.
Maybe it is time for all those who desire to see a better Seychelles – free of drugs – to start coming together to fight the complacency, the continued availability of drugs on every street corner, and the normalising of the drug culture.
Sarah Rene Zarqani
Chairperson of Care