First airlift to leave for Pakistan
COPENHAGEN, Sept. 28 (UNHCR) - The first UNHCR airlift is scheduled to leave Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 28 carrying 9,800 pieces of plastic sheeting to Quetta in Pakistan's Balochistan Province as part of the massive relief operation being mounted for up to 1.5 million Afghans who could flee to neighbouring countries. Some 10,000 to 20,000 Afghans are reportedly waiting, many without any shelter, at the main Chaman border crossing near Quetta.
A second UNHCR flight of relief items from stocks in Copenhagen is planned for the weekend. Some 2,000 tents, 6,000 quilts, 2,000 kitchen sets and 4,000 buckets have already been trucked into Quetta from Islamabad.
Meanwhile, there have been indications that some vulnerable refugees from among the thousands reported to be massed at Chaman are being allowed into Pakistan. UNHCR is "actively discussing" with authorities the possibility of a relief centre on Pakistani territory near the border, where the most vulnerable among the Afghans waiting at the border could be treated.
Elsewhere in Pakistan, UNHCR border monitors report that hundreds of Afghans have been arriving in the country through little-used crossing points. Most seem to be heading to old Afghan settlements or to towns, where their presence would be largely unnoticed. There are also unconfirmed reports that families with young men were being prevented from leaving Afghanistan. The young men were reportedly being conscripted. On September 26, Pakistan announced that borders would remain closed to people without travel documents, but that Afghans who managed to cross illegally would receive assistance in camps.