First relief flight to reach Iran
TEHRAN, Oct 1 (UNHCR) - The first UNHCR relief flight to Iran is scheduled to arrive the morning of October 2 in Mashad in the north-east of the country, carrying 40 tons of tents donated by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development. The 408 tents are part of a donation of some 1,200 tents from the UK for the Afghanistan emergency.
A second flight is planned for the coming days to bring in the remaining tents, as well as 350 rolls of plastic sheeting and cotton tarpaulins. One roll of plastic sheeting measures 4 metres by 60 metres and can be cut to size as needed for shelter and protection from the elements. The shelter materials are part of the contingency plans to assist up to 400,000 Afghans who could flee to Iran in the event of a major refugee movement out of Afghanistan. In all, the UN refugee agency is planning for a "worst-case scenario" of up to 1.5 million Afghans fleeing to countries in the region.
Relief flights are also heading to Pakistan, with plastic sheeting and blankets for possible new arrivals in the Quetta and Peshawar regions. The first flight arrived in Quetta on September 29, and the second is expected to arrive in Peshawar on October 2. According to the UN refugee agency, thousands of Afghans have managed to cross into Pakistan, despite the country's official stance that borders will remain closed to those without travel documents.
The UN refugee agency has asked for $268 million to cover operations in the Afghanistan region for the first six months. High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers has urged donor governments to respond positively to the appeal.