The United Nations' anti-drugs chief Antonio Maria Costa has blasted celebrities like Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss for fuelling problems in Africa by allegedly taking drugs.
Costa, who is the executive director of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), pointed out that some stars are sending out the wrong message regarding the use of drugs, linking it to violence and corruption.
He said that the approach of such celebrities seemed to be quite opposite to the work done by singers Bono and Bob Geldof, who are both campaigners against poverty in Africa, and other stars who have worked against the blood diamond trade, highlighted in the 2006 film of the same name.
"While some glitterati are trying to save Africa, others are contributing to its demise. Coke-snorting fashionistas are not only damaging their noses and their brains - they are contributing to state failure on the other side of the world," the Daily Telegraph quoted Costa as writing in the Observer newspaper.
"Amy Winehouse might adopt a defiant pose and slur her way through 'Rehab' (her hit single) but does she realise the message she sends to others who are vulnerable to addiction and who cannot afford expensive treatment?. Are such stars who flaunt their drug use aware of the damage caused by the trafficking of cocaine from South America via Africa to Europe?" he wrote.
According to him, drug habits of some of the celebrities were watering down the impact of campaigns being run to highlight the sufferings of African people.
"For every rebel with a cause, there are 10 others without a clue," he said.
"While some well-meaning pop idols and film stars might rage against suffering in Africa, their work is being undermined by the drug habits of careless peers such as Kate Moss," he added.
Costa's comments come in the wake of last week's UN report, which warned that letting celebrities get away with drug crimes sends out the wrong message to impressionable young people.
A spokesman for Winehouse, Chris Goodman, described Costa as "a ludicrous man" in response to the comments, the Observer reported.
"Amy has never given a quote about drugs or flaunted it in any way. She's had some problems and is trying to get better. The UN should get its own house in order," he was quoted as saying.
Representatives for Moss were not available for comment.