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High Commissioner in Pakistan

Briefing notes

High Commissioner in Pakistan

4 May 2001

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers arrived in Pakistan last night from Kabul. Today, he meets with the Minister of Interior Lt. Gen. Moin-ud-Din Haider and the minister responsible for refugees, Abbas Sarfraz Khan. This afternoon, the High Commissioner flies to Peshawar in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, where most of Pakistan's two million Afghan refugees live. On Saturday, the High Commissioner will visit Jalozai refugee site, where up to 70,000 recently arrived Afghans are sheltered. On Sunday, he will meet with various UN officials and diplomats. On Monday, he is scheduled to meet President Mohammad Rafiq Tarar, Chief Executive Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Sattar. He leaves Pakistan late Monday.

Mr. Lubbers, who just spent four days in Afghanistan, will discuss his mission with the Pakistani authorities. Clearly, he is disappointed that the Taliban authorities were unable to immediately accept his plea for a halt to fighting so that desperate humanitarian needs can be met.

UNHCR has spent $1.1 billion in Pakistan since 1979. This year our budget for some 2 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan amounts to $13.5 million, while next year we hope to increase spending to $23.3 million. Most refugees now live in settlements, where the largest single UNHCR spending item is education.