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Afghanistan Humanitarian Update No. 32

Afghanistan Humanitarian Update No. 32

11 November 2001

At a Glance:

  • First refugee families transfer to new site in Pakistan
  • Transfer plans underway for other Afghan populations
  • UNHCR begins emergency airlift to Uzbekistan
  • Donations reach $57 million

First refugee families transfer from Killi Faizo site

UNHCR on Sunday began transferring thousands of vulnerable Afghans from a border staging site in Pakistan's southern Baluchistan Province to the new Roghani refugee camp further inland. Roghani is the first camp to be opened in Pakistan since a new wave of Afghans began fleeing their homes following the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States and subsequent military campaign in Afghanistan.

The first of two UNHCR convoys, carrying a total 244 people (48 families), left the Killi Faizo staging site near the Chaman crossing on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border about midday Sunday. The second convoy was completed by mid-afternoon. The Afghans, many of whom had spent several days in the staging site, made the 16-km trip in four buses accompanied by several trucks carrying personal belongings ranging from sheep to bicycles. More convoys are scheduled daily so that the Killi Faizo staging site at the border can continue to receive vulnerable Afghans, including women, children, elderly and the sick. Although its borders remain officially closed, Pakistan is allowing these vulnerable groups into the country for temporary protection and assistance. Killi Faizo, however, had reached its capacity over a week ago and by Sunday morning had more than 3,600 people waiting for transfer to Roghani. To handle the overflow, 70 additional tents are being erected at Killi Faizo. The beginning of the transfer operation will free more space in the staging site, where hundreds of new arrivals are awaiting initial assistance. It will also ease security concerns associated with Killi Faizo's location directly adjacent to the border.

At Roghani camp Sunday, UNHCR and its partners were busy erecting tents for the new arrivals, preparing water systems and latrines, grading roads and erecting large portable warehouses. UNHCR has some 2,000 tents stockpiled nearby and will erect them as needed. UNHCR is working with several NGOs, including MSF (health), Concern (camp management), and Oxfam (water). Water will have to be trucked to the site, where Oxfam is constructing tanks. Security is provided by local authorities at Roghani, which has a total capacity of up to 40,000 people.

Transfer plans underway for other Afghan populations

A total of 11 new sites are ready in Pakistan, including three in Baluchistan (Roghani, Tor Tangi and Dara) and eight in North-West Frontier Province. Following an agreement with the Pakistan government, these sites will be available for three groups of Afghans - vulnerable refugees allowed official entry; tens of thousands of Afghans living in the makeshift New Jalozai camp near Peshawar; and the so-called "invisible" refugees - an estimated 135,000 in all - who have entered Pakistan since Sept. 11 using unofficial crossings. Fearing deportation if caught, many the Afghans in the latter group have been living a very precarious existence in old refugee camps or in Peshawar, Quetta and other cities. These Afghans will now be allowed to enter the new camps, where they can receive adequate assistance and temporary protection until it is safe to return home.

In North-West Frontier Province, the first relocation movement of these populations is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Refugees from New Jalozai will be moved to Kotkai refugee site in Bajaur Agency. UNHCR and Pakistan's Commissioner for Afghan Refugees (CAR) have been conducting an information campaign at New Jalozai informing the refugees of the option to move to the new camps and procedure for doing so. About 500 refugees are scheduled to be moved daily to Kotkai, which has a capacity of 20,000. If more than 20,000 Afghans request transfer to the new camps, the next sites to be used in NWFP will be Khanzadgan (20,000 capacity) in Mohmand Agency, and Ashgaro (20,000 capacity) in Kurram Agency.

UNHCR begins emergency airlift to Uzbekistan

A UNHCR emergency airlift of thousands of tents and plastic sheets began Sunday with the arrival of an Ilyushin-76 cargo plane in Termez, Uzbekistan, carrying 45 tons of humanitarian supplies for possible use inside Afghanistan. The airlift to Uzbekistan will consist of at least six flights in coming days from UNHCR's stockpiles in Peshawar, Pakistan. The supplies are being pre-positioned in Termez, near Uzbekistan's southern border with Afghanistan. Sunday's UNHCR-chartered flight carried some 45 tons of tents. The plane was scheduled to return to Peshawar as soon as possible to reload with additional shelter materials. In all, the airlift will transfer 4,000 tents and 4,000 plastic tarpaulins for possible use inside Afghanistan, where Northern Alliance forces were reported to be making gains against the Taliban over the weekend.

UNHCR has been pre-positioning tons of humanitarian supplies throughout the region for the past two months in anticipation of possible refugee movements from Afghanistan to neighbouring states, as well as for use inside Afghanistan as part of possible UN cross-border operations.

UNHCR has worked in and around Afghanistan for more than 20 years, including in Pakistan and Iran, which together continue to host more than 3.5 million Afghan refugees. Inside Afghanistan, UNHCR has helped more than 4.6 million Afghan refugees return home since 1988. It continues to work with about 100, primarily Afghan non-governmental organizations on projects inside Afghanistan that are aimed at making the return of refugees sustainable. Although UNHCR has withdrawn its international staff from Afghanistan, those projects are continuing with local staff support and currently benefit some 300,000 people.

Donations to UNHCR's operation reach $57 million

Venezuela has donated $1 million to UNHCR's Afghanistan Emergency operation, bringing total cash contributions as of Nov. 10 to $57.6 million.

Total Cash Contributions (in US$) as of 10 Nov. 2001

Czech Republic107,325
Private Donors2,687,049
United Kingdom3,676,471