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Afghanistan: Jalozai closes

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: Jalozai closes

12 February 2002

We issued a press release this morning on today's closure of the infamous Jalozai makeshift refugee site near Peshawar, Pakistan. A final convoy left Jalozai early this morning, transferring the last of some 45,000 Afghans we've taken to five new camps since late November. Since last October we have established 14 new camps and one transit centre for new Afghan refugees in Pakistan. There are now more than 190,000 Afghans in these recently established camps, and voluntary relocation convoys continue to shift so-called "invisible" Afghans - the unregistered and unassisted urban caseload - to the new sites where they receive assistance and protection from UNHCR and our partner agencies.

We now estimate that up to 250,000 Afghans have arrived in Pakistan since last September. Since the first of the year, more than 25,000 Afghan new arrivals have been assisted at new sites located near Chaman, in Balochistan Province. These fresh Afghan refugees - mostly ethnic Pashtuns - say that they fled the country due to a lack of relief as well as insecurity and attacks from other ethnic groups.

Despite this continuing influx, Afghans continue to return to their homeland. Since 1 January, some 26,000 Afghans have repatriated from Iran, most of them single men from non-Pashtun ethnic groups who return every year irrespective of conditions inside Afghanistan. More than 80,000 persons have spontaneously returned from Pakistan over the same period, also mainly from Afghanistan's minority ethnic groups.