UNHCR gearing up for possible Afghan influx
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Oct. 2 (UNHCR) - A second UNHCR emergency airlift flight, this one carrying nearly 45 metric tons of blankets and plastic sheeting, arrived in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday as preparations continued for a possible new influx from Afghanistan.
The Il-76 cargo plane, carrying 17,000 blankets and 250 rolls of plastic sheeting, arrived in Peshawar at 10:20 a.m. local time on a flight from Copenhagen, according to UNHCR spokesman Yusuf Hassan.
More UNHCR emergency staff have arrived in Pakistan and are being deployed in Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta to support the new emergency operation.
UNHCR was also sending the first team of specialists to the Khyber agency in north-west Pakistan on Tuesday to begin work on a new camp that will be used to accommodate Afghan refugees in the event of a major influx. Provincial authorities have given security clearance for the team, consisting of eight people. They include site planners and water and sanitation engineers from UNHCR, the Danish Aid Agency for Afghan Refugees (DACAAR), MSF, the Norwegian Council of Churches and the Afghan Construction and Logistics Unit (ALCU). The first site to be developed could receive up to 10,000 refugees.
Last week, four teams of United Nations, Pakistan government and NGO staff visited six tribal areas to inspect 75 potential sites along the border with Afghanistan. The teams found only 23 sites that were suitable for use. Four of the sites, which meet UNHCR's primary requirements, will be established simultaneously in the Khyber agency, Kurram, North Waziristan and Bajaur, all tribal areas along the Afghanistan border. UNHCR is continuing discussions with the authorities in identifying more sites.
Pakistan already hosts some 2 million Afghans.