Shelter being airlifted to remote areas of Pakistan's Swat ahead of winter

Briefing Notes, 21 September 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 21 September 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is this week airlifting shelter supplies to the remote and high altitude area of Utror in northwest Pakistan's Kalam Tehsil. The aim is to get warm shelter to flood victims in Upper Swat before winter. The first snows in this area are expected in about a month.

The airlift of shelter kits began on Sunday. The remote region has been virtually cut off since flash floods destroyed homes, roads and bridges in late July. In Utror village 300 families lost their homes. The shelter kits provide a large warm room for winter, allowing families to rebuild. More than 80 have been airlifted in so far, and training in construction is being provided through our NGO partner and locally-hired engineers. Elsewhere in Swat we have already provided shelters to 9,600 families whose homes were destroyed in last year's conflict, while in Khyber Pakhtunkwa we are working with the Norwegian Refugee Council to get shelters to flood victims in Charsadda and Nowshera districts.

Separately, starting this week around a million Afghan refugee children who were born in Pakistan will be receiving birth certificates as the government begins issuing new registration cards to the country's 1.7 million Afghan refugees. UNHCR is supporting Pakistan's National Database and Registration Authority to issue the birth certificates alongside new Proof of Registration cards, which will be valid until the end of December 2012.

The registration card is an important identity document for Afghan refugees, proving their legal right of stay in Pakistan and providing protection against detention and deportation. The birth certificates will help those refugees born in Pakistan access services like health and education, and prevent statelessness and early marriage. Also recognized by the Afghan government, the birth certificates can help returning refugees re-establish themselves after voluntary repatriation.