Pakistan: 10,000+ new Afghan arrivals reported
Authorities in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province have reported the arrival of up to 10,500 new refugees fleeing the combined effects of war and drought in Afghanistan.
Intensified fighting in north-eastern Afghanistan, combined with a serious drought afflicting the country have driven a total of some 47,000 persons from Afghanistan since September. This represents the largest group of Afghan refugees to flee into Pakistan since the Taleban took Kabul in September 1996, triggering an exodus of 50,000 refugees.
The new arrivals, mainly ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks from the war-affected regions of Takahar and Parwan in north-eastern Afghanistan, are currently camping at Jalozai and Akora Khattak sites. The refugees at the makeshift camp at Jalozai will shortly be moved to New Shamshatoo, which already hosts more than 37,000 refugees, half of whom arrived at the site in the last two weeks. The refugees camped at Akora Khattak will remain at that location and assistance will be provided to them there by UNHCR and its partners.
To meet the growing needs of the thousands of Afghans who have been pouring into north-west Pakistan, UNHCR is sending extra staff and assistance to the area. A senior UNHCR emergency officer dispatched from Geneva is already on the scene to help co-ordinate the relief effort. UNHCR has been distributing tents and plastic tarpaulins to the arrivals at New Shamshatoo and WFP is providing food.