Afghanistan Humanitarian Update No. 38
At a Glance:
- UNHCR aid distribution in Kabul
- Transfer from Pakistan's Jalozai camp picks up pace
- More Uzbeks now returning to Afghanistan from Iran
- Two more aid flights arrive in Uzbekistan
UNHCR aid distribution in Kabul
UNHCR on Wednesday contributed to a distribution of humanitarian aid in Kabul - UNHCR's first in the city since the return of international staff last Saturday. The distribution to internally displaced people in Kabul included UNHCR blankets, as well as food from the World Food Programme. The UNHCR items were salvaged from remaining stocks in Kabul. Last week, UNHCR discovered that one warehouse with UNHCR items had been looted and tents and blankets intended for returning refugees were taken. Some UNHCR stocks were distributed to internally displaced people in Kabul by NGOs in October.
UNHCR has learned that its office in Jalalabad was also looted some time ago. UNHCR offices in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar, and smaller satellite offices in Spin Boldak and Helmand provinces were also looted. Only the offices in Herat and Kabul remain undamaged.
Transfer from Pakistan's Jalozai camp picks up pace
A total of 550 people aboard nine buses transferred from Jalozai camp near Peshawar in Pakistan to the new Kotkai site on Wednesday. This is a significant increase over the previous two days of the transfer operation, which began on Monday. In all, over 1,300 Afghans have moved to Kotkai so far.
Transfers also continue to Roghani camp from the Killi Faizo temporary site near the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan's Baluchistan province. Two convoys carrying roughly 640 people were moved to Roghani on Wednesday. Another 245 Afghans moved from Killi Faizo to Roghani on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, new families continue to arrive at Killi Faizo for pre-registration and assistance pending their transfer to Roghani. On Wednesday, 670 Afghans arrived at Killi Faizo.
New arrivals coming from Kandahar report a high level of tension in the city and said they left out of fear for their safety. They also reported that some 1,800-2,400 people recently arrived in Spin Boldak on the Afghan side of the Chaman border. The new arrivals in Spin Boldak were reportedly living out in the open.
The Chaman border crossing saw strict security checks in place on Wednesday, and frustrated Afghans waiting on the Afghanistan side of the border reportedly threw stones at border guards.
More Uzbeks now returning to Afghanistan from Iran
The profile of Afghan refugees returning home from Iran has changed significantly in the last few days, with more Uzbeks heading home, mainly to the north-western Afghan provinces of Jawzjan and Faryab.
UNHCR staff monitoring the daily stream of Afghan returns through Iran's north-east border crossing at Dogharoun say that there are many more Uzbeks now compared to just a week ago when mainly Tajiks and Pashtuns were returning. Returnees are still mainly young men, some of whom are returning to Herat with the hope of joining the newly established authority there. Very few children are noted among the groups of returnees - only 10 out of every thousand, or around one percent of daily returns, are children.
Wednesday morning, UNHCR staff interviewed two young Uzbek brothers returning to Faryab. The teenage boys told UNHCR staff that they arrived in Iran more than a year ago, escaping forced conscription by the Taliban. They had been working as casual labourers in the Iranian capital, Tehran. The younger brother said that upon his return home, he would work as a shepherd, while his older brother hoped to remain at home producing vegetable oil for sale.
Overall return figures remain high, with 922 returnees on Wednesday and 1,322 on Tuesday.
In the meantime, a 15-truck relief convoy from Mashad crossed the Iranian border this afternoon. The convoy will overnight in the border town of Islam Qala before proceeding to Herat tomorrow. UNHCR staff in the recently re-opened UNHCR office in Herat report that the city remains calm, although some sporadic shooting is still heard from time to time.
Two more aid flights arrive in Uzbekistan
Two more UNHCR aid flights have arrived in Uzbekistan. A flight with 660 tents arrived in Termez on Tuesday, followed by a flight with 790 bales of plastic tarpaulins and 4,000 kitchen sets which arrived Wednesday.
Meanwhile, very windy, wintry conditions in the Uzbekistan border town of Termez have hampered efforts to load and dispatch the barges being used to ferry humanitarian aid across the Amu Darya river into northern Afghanistan. Shipments across the river that had been planned for Tuesday and Wednesday had to be postponed.