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Pakistan: Afghan border reported closed

Briefing notes

Pakistan: Afghan border reported closed

10 November 2000

There have been press reports about the Pakistan government's closure of its borders with Afghanistan. We are discussing this reported closure with Pakistani officials. While we understand the reasons for it, it is still a matter of regret. We hope that the Pakistan government will exercise flexibility if indeed such a decision has been made.

Since last month, more than 30,000 Afghans have crossed the border into Pakistan. The influx is continuing. Reasons cited by the arrivals include fighting in north-eastern Afghanistan, the worst drought in memory, the onset of winter, widespread poverty in the country.

Pakistani officials fear a larger influx from Afghanistan and are afraid that the government will be unable to cope with it. There is deep-rooted scepticism as to the degree of support from the international community. There is a steadily increasing public discontent about the presence of some 1.2 million Afghan refugees. And there are also security concerns associated with the new arrivals. Without international support to resolve problems in Afghanistan, and in Pakistan, there is obviously little that UNHCR can do.