Punishment-led drug policies, practices and narratives undermine the health and welfare of people who use drugs worldwide.
Statistics by UNODC's 2020 World Drug Report suggest around 585,000 people lose their lives to wholly-preventable drug-related deaths every year.
This tragedy is rendered even more painful when considering other victims of the "war on drugs", executed by law enforcement operators, the criminal legal system, the military and non-state actors.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and counterproductive state responses to it, poses new hindrances and stressors that specifically and disproportionately affect people who use drugs; in particular, those targeted by intersecting forms of oppression (homelessness, poverty, racism, patriarchal violence, among others).
On 21st July, we honour and remember people who use drugs who continue to perish in wholly avoidable deaths, and stand in solidarity with affected communities worldwide in demanding policies and attitudes that empower people who use drugs.