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Afghanistan Humanitarian Update No. 35

Afghanistan Humanitarian Update No. 35

15 November 2001

At a Glance:

  • UNHCR Kabul office open
  • Population movements inside Afghanistan
  • New arrivals at Killi Faizo temporary site in Pakistan
  • Transfers to Roghani camp continue
  • Meeting with Pakistan provincial authorities on transfers from Jalozai
  • Largest single-day return to Afghanistan from Iran since August
  • More tents sent to Uzbekistan

UNHCR Kabul office open

Reports from inside Afghanistan indicate that Kabul appears to be returning to normalcy. UNHCR's office in Kabul is now open, and local staff have returned to work. The office appears to not have suffered any damage while it was closed. Although the office was untouched, a warehouse was ransacked and 1,400 UNHCR tents and unknown quantities of quilts intended for internally displaced people and returnees were taken. Staff have been putting the premises and UNHCR vehicles in order and preparing to resume work. Prior to the events of September 11, UNHCR had been operating various projects in and around Kabul on shelter and water for recently returned refugees.

Population movements inside Afghanistan

UNHCR is increasingly concerned about a possible new influx of refugees into Pakistan following reports of thousands of people leaving the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand for the Pakistani border. UNHCR was informed that several thousand people have already crossed into Baluchistan at various points along the border. UNHCR is maintaining its preparedness in Pakistan to deal with a possible influx. Additional shelter materials and blankets are being moved into the border areas in Baluchistan.

There are also reports of possible fighters crossing into Pakistan. UNHCR is concerned that refugee camps must remain humanitarian only. Governments of states hosting refugees have the responsibility to ensure the separation of any possible combatants from refugee populations and guarantee the non-military nature of camps.

New arrivals at Killi Faizo temporary site in Pakistan; transfers to Roghani camp continue

UNHCR staff registered 180 families at the Killi Faizo staging site Thursday. The new arrivals are in addition to some 800 people who had earlier been waiting outside the site and were finally allowed to enter Killi Faizo on Wednesday. The total number of people in Killi Faizo is now near 2,500.

Among the people crossing into Pakistan at the Chaman border Thursday were two women who had recently given birth to stillborn infants. The women were transferred to Roghani site where they were able to bury their babies.

In the largest day of transfers so far, nine convoys carrying 1,300 people (255 families) left Killi Faizo for Roghani camp farther from the border Thursday. The camp population at Roghani is now more than 2,400.

Largest single-day return from Iran since August

More than 1,300 Afghans returned home through Dogharoun, Iran's main border crossing with Afghanistan, in the largest single-day return since the end of August. Many of the returnees - mainly Tajiks and Hazaras - told UNHCR they wanted to see for themselves the developments in Herat following the take-over by the Northern Alliance. Many, however, remained cautious and said they had left their families behind in Iran until they were more certain of the situation in western Afghanistan.

A Tajik man who spoke to UNHCR staff said he had left Herat, his hometown, more than 18 years ago, during the war between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union and had not been back since then. He has been living just outside Tehran where he worked as a street vendor.

The departure of an Iranian Red Crescent Society-UNHCR aid convoy from Mashad in Northeast Iran to Herat in western Afghanistan was postponed as the loading of trucks was not completed on Wednesday. Loading continued on Thursday.

Aid workers return to Makaki camp

The situation along Afghanistan's south-western border was reported to be calm. Thursday morning, aid workers returned to the Iranian-run Makaki camp for displaced Afghans inside Afghanistan near the Iran border. The return of workers to the camp came after a two-day absence following a stand-off between Taliban forces and Northern Alliance troops. The Northern Alliance later took control of the displaced persons camp and surrounding areas.

Iranian authorities reported the transfer of some 200 displaced Afghan families from Makaki to Mile 46, another camp inside Afghanistan. The authorities expect to continue with the exercise aimed at moving displaced Afghans who had spontaneously settled on the outskirts of Makaki, located right on the edge of Afghanistan's south-western border.

UNHCR remains very concerned about the two camps just inside Afghanistan and continues to urge the government of Iran to allow these people inside its territory if they are unable to return to their homes.

More tents sent to Uzbekistan

The third flight carrying 670 tents from Peshawar, Pakistan has arrived in Termez, Uzbekistan. So far, a total of 2,010 tents have been flown in to Termez for use in Northern Afghanistan. Additional flights to Termez are planned for the weekend.