Nearly 4,000 families flee Pakistan for Kunar

UNHCR Kabul Briefing Note, 29 September 2008

Kabul, 29 September (UNHCR) - More than 3,900 families, or around 20,000 individuals, have fled fighting in Bajaur Agency of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), into Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan since summer.

A total of 3,964 families have sought refuge in the districts of Shigal (2,120 families), Marawara (748), Dangam (706) and some 390 families in other districts of Kunar province.

In the last two weeks alone, over 600 Pakistani families have fled into Afghanistan. While the vast majority of them are living with their relatives and friends, there are already some 200 families who live in the open air.

The humanitarian response is coordinated and closely monitored through the provincial government in close cooperation with UN agencies and international organizations. UNHCR coordinates the response of the international community and other non-governmental organizations to ensure the effective delivery of assistance, that the basic needs of the displaced families are properly addressed and to maximize the use of limited available resources.

So far, UNHCR has provided relief materials such as plastic sheets, blankets, jerry cans and lanterns to the families in Marawara and Dangam. It is also funding a mobile clinic to visit five days a week in Shigal and Marawara. Agencies like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) and UNICEF have also distributed relief items to the refugees in various parts of Kunar province.

The provincial government, the World Food Programme, ICRC and ARCS have provided food packages. UNICEF has provided medical kits while the World Health Organisation has started a polio campaign in three affected districts.

Plastic sheets have also been given to the host families to help them cope with the added burden. UNHCR is considering providing support to the host families in improving their current accommodation in order to provide basic comfort to the displaced.

UNHCR anticipates that the majority of the displaced families will return to Pakistan as soon as the security situation in Bajaur improves.