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Pakistan: Jalozai aid up, but concerns remain

Briefing notes

Pakistan: Jalozai aid up, but concerns remain

18 May 2001

Heat and poor sanitary conditions continue to exact a heavy toll on the Afghans at the squalid Jalozai site, near Peshawar in North West Pakistan. An estimated 70,000 Afghans, who fled the conflict and drought in their country, have been camping out in Jalozai since mid-January. In the past two weeks, as summer temperatures soared above 45 degrees Celsius, more than 25 children have died of heatstroke and dehydration.

UNHCR and its partners have intensified efforts aimed at improving the health and sanitary conditions at the camp. We are strengthening the capacity of the nearby Al-Jihad hospital to better manage and handle referral cases and emergencies. UNHCR is also providing assistance in essential drugs, medicines and laboratory equipment.

In Jalozai, the working hours of the three health centres have been extended and an ambulance service is now available at the camp. Four oral rehydration centres and two heatstroke units have been established. Additional oral rehydration salts (ORS) have been sent to Jalozai and every family provided with two sachets. Fifty health workers are making tent-to-tent visits to train mothers on the preparation and use of ORS. UNHCR is also providing generators, fans, water coolers and ice to the health centres in Jalozai.

The volume of water trucked into Jalozai daily has been considerably increased, from 400,000 litres in April to 580,000 litres now, and the number of reservoirs increased from 25 to 33. By next week, the camp will get an additional 140,000 litres a day.

Another 185 latrines have been completed, bringing the total number of toilets in the camp to 920. But because of the serious overcrowding at the site, it is now extremely difficult to find space for more latrines.

UNHCR is very concerned about the plight of the Afghans in Jalozai. Aid workers say Jalozai is not fit for habitation and neither the shelter nor the sanitation situation can be substantially improved. The combined effects of acute overcrowding, limited sanitation facilities and soaring summer heat are making life unbearable for the people in Jalozai, while at the same time raising fears of epidemics. Pakistan shelters some two million Afghan refugees, most of them in settlements.