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Afghanistan Humanitarian Update No. 22

Afghanistan Humanitarian Update No. 22

20 October 2001

At a Glance:

  • 5,000 people with documents reportedly allowed to cross into Pakistan's Baluchistan Province; thousands more waiting on other side of border
  • Work progressing on sites in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province

Situation at Pakistan's Chaman Border Crossing

A UNHCR team on Saturday visited the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province, where authorities said some 5,000 people had crossed from Afghanistan during the day. However, officials said only those with valid documents were being allowed to cross the border.

A crowd estimated as large as 10,000 people was visible in the distance, across the border on the edge of Afghanistan's no-man's land. It appeared they were not being allowed to cross the frontier.

Among those being allowed to enter Pakistan, the UNHCR team saw at least one elderly person, some women with children, and one man with an eye wound. But there did not seem to be many vulnerable persons among those crossing into Pakistan.

The Pakistan government has a checkpoint at the "zero-point" along the border, where they check the documents of anyone trying to enter to ensure that they have valid papers. Officials at a second Pakistan checkpoint five metres inside the no-man's land again review documentation before letting people into the country.

There was a lot of commercial traffic at the border, with trucks and minibuses going in both directions. The general scene on the Pakistan side was described as "disorderly", but not chaotic.

New arrivals described Kandahar as "empty." They reported that fuel was no longer available, and that food was scarce. People claimed that some members of their families had been killed in the ongoing aerial bombardments.

UNHCR is planning to send several trucks to Chaman on Sunday with tents, food, blankets and other assistance items in order to assist any vulnerable groups and to build-up a stockpile. Medical teams are also expected to go to Chaman on Sunday to help examine any needy persons crossing the frontier.

Site Preparations in North-West Frontier Province

In North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), UNHCR dispatched a mission to Shalman on Saturday to review progress at Malkina site no. 1, where works on the road and the sanitation and water systems are 75 percent finished. In South Waziristan, UNHCR's partner agency is preparing an access road into the site. In Kurram, engineers spent two days mapping out the site. Equipment to prepare the ground should have arrived on Friday, with site preparations to start Saturday. The site identified in Bajuar seems viable, and a team will visit the area on Monday to review the site and prepare to clear the land. However, in Mohmand, the landowner objected to the use of his property for a refugee camp.

Meanwhile, UNHCR interviews with new arrivals in NWFP continue. Interviews indicate that most of the new arrivals are staying in old camps with other Afghan refugees who arrived prior to the recent events. UNHCR is reinforcing existing health centres to provide support to the new arrivals while benefitting old caseload refugees as well as the local Pakistan population.