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Pakistan: UNHCR rushes resources to aid Afghans

Briefing notes

Pakistan: UNHCR rushes resources to aid Afghans

8 December 2000

UNHCR has rushed resources to assist the thousands of Afghans who have been pouring into Pakistan to escape the intensified fighting and drought in their homeland.

A senior UNHCR Emergency officer has arrived in Pakistan to help co-ordinate the work of UNHCR and its partners, including stabilizing the situation in the New Shamshatoo refugee settlement. The settlement now hosts more than 37,000 new refugees, half of whom arrived at the site in the last week. Another 425 newcomers were on Thursday transferred from Jalozai to New Shamshatoo.

UNHCR has so far distributed 2,220 tents and more than 2,000 plastic tarpaulins to the arrivals at New Shamshatoo. There is a shortage of tents, and refugees are being asked to share until new supplies arrive. WFP has distributed food aid to 2,500 families.

In collaboration with NGO partners, UNHCR is expanding its shelter, sanitation and water services at New Shamshatoo. To meet the needs of the new arrivals, 23 new wells have already been sunk out of 150 shallow wells that will have to be drilled. NGO partners are also constructing reservoirs for 40,000 litres of drinking water. Some 75 latrines have so far been dug and another 130 are under construction. Since Monday, Pakistani public health officers and NGOs have inoculated 2,000 children between six months and five years old against various diseases like measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio and tuberculosis.

UNHCR appreciates the cooperation shown by Pakistan and shares the government's concerns that it is shouldering much of its huge refugee burden alone. We urge the international community to continue support for refugees in the South Asia region.

NOTE: UNHCR also wishes to clarify comments expressed at a media briefing on Nov. 24 in which concern was expressed about a lack of access to new Afghan arrivals in Pakistan. In fact, UNHCR had access to the Afghans within three days of learning of their presence in Pakistan.