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Afghanistan emergency: humanitarian supply build-up continues

Briefing notes

Afghanistan emergency: humanitarian supply build-up continues

9 October 2001

UNHCR continues to build up humanitarian supplies in Pakistan's border areas despite a precarious security situation and logistical problems. By the end of today (Tuesday), UNHCR will have a stock of 15,000 tents in its Peshawar warehouse - enough to house up to 80,000 people. Tents, plastic sheets and blankets are being trucked daily from Peshawar to border crossing points.

Tents are also being trucked from suppliers in Karachi and other cities to the southern city of Quetta, which now has 4,000 tents out of the 20,000 needed to accommodate the first 100,000 refugees.

Work on prospective refugee campsites in both the Quetta and the Peshawar areas has been on hold for the past 24 hours, following violent demonstrations on Monday in Peshawar and Quetta. The fragile security situation has drastically limited the freedom of movement of UNHCR international staff, with supplies being ferried mostly by local contractors.

Pakistan's border with Afghanistan remains officially closed but refugees keep trickling in, using small mountain roads at a rate of several hundred people per day. However, UNHCR border monitors to date have not reported any large groups of people trying to gather on the Afghan side of the border. Some reports speak of increased Taliban presence in the border area, which may prevent those wishing to leave from doing so. UNHCR has urged open borders in the region. In the event of a mass influx of Afghans, UNHCR suggests that the neighbouring countries provide temporary protection.

In a related development, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers left this morning for Qatar, where he has been invited to address the foreign ministers' meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Conference on Wednesday on humanitarian efforts for refugees and the displaced in the Afghanistan region.