Pakistan allows 600 vulnerable Afghan refugees to enter country
CHAMAN, Pakistan, Jan. 16 (UNHCR) - Pakistan agreed Wednesday to allow some 600 vulnerable Afghan refugees stranded near the Chaman border crossing to be placed in camps and be given medical assistance.
The refugees, who represent a small portion of the estimated 13,000 people stuck on the Pakistani side of the border near UNHCR's Killi Faizo transit centre, were medically screened and the children vaccinated.
The refugee agency has consistently pleaded with Pakistani authorities, who insist on maintaining the border with Afghanistan closed, to allow the new wave of refugees into the camps for humanitarian reasons. Most of the refugees said they fled the Kandahar region of south-eastern Afghanistan because of lack of food and continuing security problems.
The refugees began arriving on New Year's day from the Afghan city of Spin Boldak across the border, where they had been holed up. Many of the refugees are spending their third week in the open air with little or no protection, even as temperatures drop below zero at night.
UNHCR has been able, however, to distribute blankets, high protein biscuits and water to the refugees.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the agency said it wants to increase the pace of the relocation effort "in order to shift the newly arrived Afghans to camps where they can be properly assisted and receive medical and other care."
Meanwhile, UNHCR said Wednesday that a survey completed in late December of Kabul and three other nearby provinces had revealed that some 250,000 displaced people were living in the area. The agency said that since November 23, when the Taliban withdrew from the capital, some 47,000 people have returned to the capital.