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Afghanistan emergency: funding situation improves but still poor

Briefing notes

Afghanistan emergency: funding situation improves but still poor

23 October 2001

UNHCR has received more than $19 million in additional cash contributions over the weekend and yesterday (Monday). The United States contributed $10 million, Germany $4.4 million, Australia $1.9 million, the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) contributed $1.8 million, Finland $772,000 and Luxembourg $340,000. The new funds bring total cash contributions to over $31 million to date. This still represents less than two-thirds of the needs ($50 million) required for the first phase of the operation. The operation is still proceeding hand-to-mouth.

UNHCR and its partners are working today to prepare a temporary staging site about 2 km from the Chaman border, inside Pakistan, where we can provide for the urgent humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable cases entering from Afghanistan. These would include women, mothers, children, the elderly, the disabled and those in need of medical attention. Work is now underway at the site, Killi Faizo, including erection of tents and pre-positioning of humanitarian supplies. About 1,000 people could initially be helped at Killi Faizo. It is viewed as a temporary humanitarian measure to help with the most urgent needs of vulnerable people arriving in Pakistan from Afghanistan.

In the meantime, work continues on two longer-term sites about 20 km from Chaman - Roghani and Tor Tangi - which will have a total combined capacity of 50,000.

Officially, the border remains closed and the situation at Chaman this morning was reported quiet. There are indications that those who are unable to cross at the official border points are continuing to use remote trails and unofficial crossing points, sometimes paying local smugglers to show them the way.

In Iran, meanwhile, the Iranian border remains closed. The situation at the border is reportedly calm, with no reports of large-scale population movements. There are, however, indications that people may be massing in Afghanistan's Nimroz province in the vicinity of the town of Zaranj, near the Iranian border. A few new arrivals in Iran, interviewed by UNHCR's team in the border town of Zabol, reported that approximately 1,200 people have arrived in Zaranj from other provinces in Afghanistan since Thursday.

There are now two Iranian Red Crescent Society camps operating inside Afghanistan - one at Mile 46 in a Northern Alliance-controlled pocket, and a second site called Makaki in a Taliban-controlled area in Afghanistan's Nimruz province. There are reportedly over 500 people at the Mile 46 site and around 600 at Makaki.

In Turkmenistan today, the first flight for UNHCR's operations in Turkmenistan is scheduled to arrive in Turkmenabad. The flight, donated by Switzerland, carries blankets, tents and other supplies.