Afghanistan: 8,000+ plus flee to Pakistan
More than 8,000 Afghans fleeing the intensified fighting in north-east Afghanistan have crossed into Pakistan. The new arrivals said they fled their homes in the wake of indiscriminate aerial attacks in which some of their relatives were either killed or maimed.
The refugees, who are predominantly Dari-speaking from Baghlan, Parwan and Kapisa provinces, are camped in a makeshift area out in the open in Jalozai, some 25 km east of Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's Northwest province. They have erected temporary shelters made out of whatever they could get - old plastic sheets, pieces of clothes and blankets. The site has no toilets or access to safe drinking water. Torrential rains have made the poor conditions worse.
The Government is dispatching a team to carry out a verification exercise so that those screened in can be quickly transferred to a camp with adequate sanitation facilities and receive urgent assistance. Some 3,000 newly arrived refugees have already been moved to the New Shamshatoo refugee camp, about 10 km from Jalozai.
There has been a significant rise in the number of Afghans arriving in Pakistan this month. On Tuesday, nearly 500 refugees crossed into Pakistan, the single largest influx. On average they have been crossing at the rate of 30 families a day. The majority have entered Pakistan at the Torkham border post. But on Wednesday, we learned that at least fifty families had crossed at Chitral border post, some 300 km north of Peshawar. Chitral is just across from Badakshan province, an opposition stronghold and the latest flashpoint in Afghanistan's long-running conflict. There are 1.3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan.