UNHCR emergency airlift begins
QUETTA, Pakistan, Sept. 29 (UNHCR) - The first UNHCR emergency airlift flight carrying 44 metric tons of plastic sheeting arrived in Quetta, Pakistan, Saturday afternoon.
The Ilyushin-76 cargo plane carried 9,800 plastic tarpaulins from UNHCR's regional stockpiles in Copenhagen, Denmark. It landed in Quetta at 1:40 p.m. local time and will continue to shuttle between Quetta and Copenhagen, delivering more supplies in preparation for a possible influx of hundreds of thousands of Afghans.
UNHCR's office in Quetta is looking for an additional 3,000 square metres of warehouse space to make room for the additional supplies.
The 9,800 plastic tarpaulins on the first airlift could provide emergency shelter for more than 50,000 people. The tarpaulins and the additional aid supplies being airlifted on later flights will significantly boost UNHCR's shelter stocks in Pakistan. The agency already has 9,300 tents in Pakistan, and another 20,000 are being produced by local suppliers.
The emergency airlift is part of UNHCR's $268 million contingency plan for the region, covering a possible influx of up to 1.5 million Afghans into neighbouring countries. The plan, described by UNHCR officials as "worst-case," calls for preparations for up to 1 million additional Afghans in Pakistan; up to 400,000 in Iran; up to 50,000 each in Turkmenistan and Tajikistan; and up to 10,000 in Uzbekistan. Pakistan and Iran already host more than 3.5 million Afghans who have fled their strife-torn nation over the past two decades because of war, drought and looming famine.