David Gilkey and his Afghan interpreter, Zabihullah Tamanna

Dear RSF Members and Friends,

We heard the very sad news on Sunday that veteran NPR photographer and video reporter, David Gilkey, was killed in Afghanistan along with his Afghan interpreter Zabihulla Tamanna. The Humvee they were riding in was hit by rocket-propelled grenades in an apparent ambush, according to NPR. The driver, a soldier from the Afghan National Army, was also killed.

This tragic news highlights again how journalists and photographers risk their lives every day to bring information out of dangerous areas to the listening world. Our lives would be very different if there were not people in the world like David Gilkey.

As RSF mourns another loss in the journalism community, we share this news with you as members and friends of this same community — one that understands the importance of press freedom around the world. Thank you for your support.

The Reporters Without Borders team

Reporters WIthout Borders


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SECRET – U.S. Military PSYOP Leaflets from Iraq and Afghanistan

SECRET – U.S. Military PSYOP Leaflets from Iraq and Afghanistan

The following are psychological operations (PSYOP) leaflets dropped over Afghanistan and Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The leaflets are taken from a booklet released commercially by Giovanni Carmine and Christoph Büchel in 2006.  The leaflets are written in Arabic, Dari and Pashto.  Accurate translations are welcome.

Exposed – The Public Eye – Afghanistan Night Operations Photos

Exposed – The Public Eye – Afghanistan Night Operations Photos


Coalition force members provide security during an operation in Pul-e ‘Alam District, Logar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 1, 2013. The mission’s force was to search for and detain a Taliban facilitator in the area. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Liam Mulrooney)


Coalition force members kneel during an operation in Nerkh District, Wardak province, Afghanistan, Sept. 28, 2013. The purpose of the operation was to detain a mid-level Taliban extremist. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Liam Mulrooney)


Afghan and coalition force members investigate a possible improvised explosive device manufacturing site during an operation in western Maiwand District, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2013. The mission was to detain a Taliban leader involved in lethal facilitation in IED manufacturing operations and direct action attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Richard Dewitt)


Coalition force members huddle to discuss evidence found in the compound of a known Taliban leader in Nerkh District, Wardak province, Afghanistan, Sept. 28, 2013. The purpose of the operation was to detain a Taliban extremist. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Liam Mulrooney)


Afghan and coalition security force members scan for potential enemy in search of a senior Taliban leader in Panjwa’i district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 30, 2013. The security force detained seven extremists as a result of the operation, the leader was in charge of a cell of fighters responsible for direct and indirect fire attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He coordinated improvised explosive device and suicide bomber operations throughout Kandahar province, and was involved in facilitating weapons to extremists. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Matthew R. Hulett)


Afghan and coalition security force members stand on top of a mountainside during an operation in search of a senior Taliban leader in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 20, 2013. The Taliban leader was detained during the operation. He had operational control over a group of fighters responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout Kandahar province. He also served as a key facilitator in the area, procuring and distributing weapons and other military supplies to multiple cells of Taliban fighters. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Travis Jones)


An Afghan and coalition security force await departure for a mission in Zurmat dstrict, Paktiya province, Feb. 9, 2013. The mission resulted in the arrest of a Taliban leader that executed improvised explosive device emplacements throughout Zurmat district targeting Afghan and coalition forces. He was the second-in-command of Taliban fighting cell with nearly 45 insurgent fighters. The security force also detained one suspected insurgent and seized an assault-rifle with associated gear and ammunition. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Codie Mendenhall)


Afghan and coalition security force members search a courtyard during a mission in Zurmat dstrict, Paktiya province, Feb. 9, 2013. The mission resulted in the arrest of a Taliban leader that executed improvised explosive device emplacements throughout Zurmat district targeting Afghan and coalition forces. He was the second-in-command of Taliban fighting cell with nearly 45 insurgent fighters. The security force also detained one suspected insurgent and seized an assault-rifle with associated gear and ammunition. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Codie Mendenhall)


A coalition force member provides security during a mission that arrested a Haqqani facilitator in Pul-e ‘Alam district, Logar province, Jan. 21, 2013. The detained Haqqani facilitator was responsible for the acquisition and delivery of weapons to Haqqani fighters within Logar province. He coordinated and executed kidnappings and assassinations of Afghan Local Police as well as Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officials. (U.S Army photo by Pfc. Coty M. Kuhn)


Members of an Afghan and coalition security force use a poppy field for concealment during a night operation in Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 27, 2013. The operation resulted in the detention of a Taliban leader and two other extremists, the leader was in charge of a cell of fighters responsible for planning and executing attacks against government officials in Helmand province. He also facilitated the production and distribution of home-made explosive materials for use in afghan enemy operations, and possessed significant experience with improvised explosive devices. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Richard W. Jones Jr.)


An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Haqqani leader in Logar province, Jan. 2, 2013. The detained Haqqani facilitator executed high-profile attack and assassination planning targeting the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officials as well as Afghan and coalition forces. He facilitated the distribution of weapons, improvised explosive devices and suicide vest materials to Haqqani cells operating in Pul-e’Alam district. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Coty M. Kuhn)


Coalition force members sit and await orders before an operation in Nerkh District, Wardak province, Afghanistan, Sept. 7, 2013. The mission’s focus was to detain a Taliban leader. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Liam Mulrooney)


Coalition force members search a courtyard during a night operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 20, 2013. The coalition force was searching for a Taliban leader. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Justin Young)


Members of an Afghan-led strike force conduct a security operation in Nadir Shah Kot district, Khost province, Afghanistan, Jan. 16, 2012. During the operation a Haqqani leader was captured by an Afghan and coalition security force. This leader trained and directed insurgent fighters to conduct roadside bomb attacks. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Kohl)


First Platoon, Alpha Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment conducted a night-fire operation at Forward Operating Base Arian with illumination rounds May 30, 2013. The artillerymen from 1st platoon were conducting the operation to support the Afghan National Army soldiers at a checkpoint in the Qarabah district, Ghazni province. The illumination rounds were used to deter enemy activity in the area and to create more visibility for the ANA troops securing the area.(Photo taken by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Foss)


Members of an Afghan and coalition security force move into a field of grass during an operation in Khugyani district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013. The security force detained a Taliban leader who had command and control of a cell of Afghan enemy fighters active in Khugyani district. He and his fighters illegally procured various types of weapons and used them in multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The security force also seized one AK-47 and a pistol as a result of the operation. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Elliott N. Banks)

TOP-SECRET – UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey 2012

TOP-SECRET – UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey 2012


United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Afghanistan Opium Survey 2012

  • 112 pages
  • May 2013


Afghanistan cultivates, produces and process narcotics that are a threat to the region and worldwide. However, the international community also needs to understand that Afghanistan itself is a victim of this phenomenon. The existence of hundreds of thousands of problem drug users, as well as decades of civil war, terrorism and instability are all related to the existence of narcotics in the country.

According to the findings of this survey, the total area under cultivation was estimated at 154,000 hectares, an 18 per cent increase from the previous year. Comparisons of the gross and net values with Afghan’s licit GDP for 2012 also serve to highlight the opium economy’s impact on the country. In 2012, net opium exports were worth some 10 per cent of licit GDP, while the farmgate value of the opium needed to produce those exports alone was equivalent to 4 per cent of licit GDP.

On the basis of shared responsibility and the special session of the United Nation’s General assembly in 1998, the international community needs to take a balanced approach by addressing both the supply and the demand side equally. In addition, more attention needs to be paid to reduce demand and the smuggling of precursors as well as provide further support to the Government of Afghanistan.

  • The total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan in 2012 was estimated at 154,000 hectares, a 18% increase from the previous year.
  • The vast majority (95%) of opium cultivation took place in nine provinces in Afghanistan’s Southern and Western regions, which include the country’s most insecure provinces. In mirroring the polarization in the security situation between the lawless south and the relatively stable north of the country, this confirms the link between security and opium cultivation observed in previous years.
  • Hilmand remained Afghanistan’s major opium-cultivating province, followed by Farah, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Nimroz, Nangarhar, Badghis, Badakhshan, Kunar, Day Kundi, Hirat, Laghman, Zabul, Kapisa, Ghor and Kabul.
  • Opium cultivation increased in most of the main poppy-cultivating provinces, including in Hilmand itself (19%). However, relatively less poppy was cultivated inside the Hilmand “Food Zone”, where agricultural support programmes are implemented, than in the rest of the province.
  • Based on preliminary results from other countries, opium cultivation in Afghanistan represented 64% of global cultivation in 2012.
  • Total eradication of opium poppy increased by 154% in 2012 due to an increase in Governor-led eradication (GLE) in all regions, which accounted for 9,672 hectares.
  • Even though the area eradicated was the equivalent of less than 6.5 % of the total area under opium cultivation, with a total of 102 fatalities and 127 injured, the human cost of the eradication campaign was far higher in 2012 than in the preceding year.
  • Average opium yield amounted to 23.7 kilograms per hectare in 2012, which is 47% less than in 2011 (44.5 kilograms per hectare). This was due to a combination of a disease of the opium poppy and adverse weather conditions, particularly in the Eastern, Western and Southern regions of the country.
  • Potential opium production was estimated at 3,700 tons in 2012. While a 36% decrease from the previous year, based on preliminary results for some countries and regions, this figure represented 74% of global potential production.
  • The opium yield and production estimates of the years 2006 to 2009 were revised downward after a careful review revealed data quality problems which had led to an overestimation of the per-hectare yield.
  • Accounting for 69% of national production, the Southern region continued to produce the vast majority of opium in Afghanistan in 2012. The Western region was the country’s second most important opium-producing region, with 23% of national production.
  • At US$ 0.73 billion, or the equivalent of roughly 4% of the country’s estimated GDP, the farm-gate value of opium production in 2012 fell by 49%.
  • The gross export value of opium and heroin/morphine exports in 2012 was US$ 2.0 billion (US$ 2.6 billion in 2011). The net export value of Afghan opiates in 2012 was US$ 1.94 billion. Far smaller, the gross value of the domestic market for the drugs was estimated to be US$ 0.16 billion.
  • A comparison of these gross and net values with the licit 2012 GDP of Afghanistan (US$ 18.95 billion) shows the magnitude of the Afghan opium economy. In 2012, net opium exports were worth some 10% of licit GDP, while the farm-gate value of the opium needed to produce those exports alone was equivalent to 4% of licit GDP. The net value of the domestic market for opiates is small by comparison, but still worth approximately 1% of licit GDP.
  • On average, poppy-growing households in Afghanistan continue to have a higher cash income than households that do not grow poppy.
  • Between 2011 and 2012, per-hectare gross income from opium cultivation decreased by 57% to US$ 4,600, virtually the same level as in 2010. Farmers reported average expenditure corresponding to 28% of gross income, leading to a net income of US$ 3,300 per hectare.
  • In 2012, opium prices remained very high but decreased slightly in all regions of Afghanistan, though in the Eastern, Western and Southern regions, in particular, they showed signs of stabilization at a high level. There is thus a clear incentive for Afghan farmers to continue cultivating opium.
  • In general, opium-growing villages are situated significantly further from the nearest agricultural market than non-opium-growing villages, suggesting that market accessibility and farmers’ options for cultivating legitimate agricultural produce and to cultivate opium are issues that needs to be addressed.
  • The link between opium cultivation and lack of development is shown by the fact that while over 90% of non-poppy-growing villages have a boys’ school and almost three quarters a girls’ school, these proportions drop to 61% (boys’ school) and 19% (girls’ school) in poppy-growing villages. The possible negative long-term effect of having less access to education than their contemporaries, and the absence of schools for girls in over four fifths of poppy-growing villages in particular, is worrying.
  • Cannabis cultivation is closely related to poppy cultivation: 71% of poppy-growing villages reported cannabis cultivation in 2012, while only 2% of poppy-free villages reported it.

Unveiled – UNODC Afghanistan Opium Risk Assessment 2013

Unveiled – UNODC Afghanistan Opium Risk Assessment 2013


In 2013, the Opium Risk Assessment was carried out in two phases similar to the year before. The first phase was implemented between December 2012 and January 2013 and covered the Central, Eastern, Southern and Western region, where opium was sown in fall 2012.

The second phase took place in February-March 2013 and covered the Northern and North-eastern regions, where opium poppy is mainly cultivated in spring. This report presents the findings of both phases. According to the 2013 Opium Risk Assessment increases in poppy cultivation are expected in most regions and in the main poppy-growing provinces.

In the Southern region, the Risk Assessment indicated that the largest opium cultivating provinces, Hilmand and Kandahar, are likely to see an increase in opium cultivation due to the current high price of opium and to compensate the low opium yield in 2012 which was caused by a combination of a disease of the opium poppy and unfavourable weather conditions. An increase in opium poppy cultivation is also expected in Uruzgan and Zabul province. No major changes are expected in Daykundi province. In the western provinces, namely in Farah and Ghor, opium cultivation is also expected to increase. A decrease in opium poppy cultivation is however expected in Hirat province. Increasing trends were reported from Nangarhar and Kapisa provinces in the Eastern region. No major changes in opium cultivation are expected in Nimroz, Badghis, Kabul, Kunar and Laghman provinces.

Balkh and Faryab in northern region are likely to see an increase in opium cultivation in 2013. These two provinces may lose their poppy-free status if timely effective eradication is not implemented. No major changes are expected in Baghlan province. The largest cultivating province in the north-east, Badakhshan is likely to see an increase in opium cultivation in 2013. The increase in opium cultivation is also expected in Takhar province. Takhar may lose its poppy-free status unless effective eradication is implemented in time. The remaining provinces in the northern and north-eastern regions are expected to remain poppy-free in 2013.

The Risk Assessment 2013 indicated that a strong association between insecurity, lack of agricultural assistance and opium cultivation continues to exist. Villages with a low level of security and those which had not received agricultural assistance in the previous year were significantly more likely to grow poppy in 2013 than villages with good security and those, which had received assistance. Similarly, villages which had been reached by anti-poppy awareness campaigns were significantly less likely to grow poppy in 2013.

Fear of eradication was the most frequent reason reported for not cultivating poppy in 2013 in Southern, Western, Eastern and Central region, unlike in previous years, when eradication was rarely mentioned by respondents. The large increase in eradication in 2012 compared to previous years and the fact that it happened in major poppy cultivating areas are likely reasons for this result. However, in the Northern and North-eastern region the most frequent reason for not cultivating opium was “ not enough yield in the previous year” followed by the government’s opium ban.

The findings of the 2013 Opium Risk Assessment in the Southern, Eastern, Western and Central regions points to a worrying situation. The assessment suggests that poppy cultivation is not only expected to expand in areas where it already existed in 2012, e.g. in the area north of the Boghra canal in Hilmand province or in Bawka district in Farah province but also in new areas or in areas where poppy cultivation was stopped. In eastern Afghanistan, in Nangarhar province, farmers resumed cultivation even in districts where poppy has not been present for the last four years. In the Northern and Northeastern region, the provinces of Balkh and Takhar which were poppy-free for many years are at risk of resuming poppy cultivation.

On a more positive note, some provinces with a low level of poppy cultivation, namely Ghor, Kabul, Kapisa, Hirat Zabul and Baghlan may gain poppy-free status in 2013 if effective eradication is implemented on time.