UN refugee agency seeks $268 million for Afghan crisis
GENEVA, Sept 26 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency said it needs US $268 million to respond to a large-scale humanitarian emergency in and around Afghanistan. In what it called the "worst-case scenario", UNHCR said it is preparing for up to 1.5 million refugees - 1 million into Pakistan; 400,000 into Iran; 50,000 into Tajikistan; and 50,000 into Turkmenistan.
"We simply must be prepared for the worst," said High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers.
The refugee agency says so far a relatively small number of people have tried to leave Afghanistan, mostly for Pakistan. But it says the anticipation of a possible punitive action against the Taliban has led to considerable new displacement within Afghanistan, which had nearly 1 million internally displaced people even before the current developments. UNHCR officials fear that any action in Afghanistan could send large numbers of people fleeing toward neighbouring countries. The plans include the possibility to supply aid to 500,000 people inside Afghanistan, if necessary.
The quarter of a billion dollars would pay for a massive relief effort involving building refugee camps and delivering a huge amount of relief supplies, including more than 80,000 tents. Much of it would have to be airlifted to Pakistan and Iran. Up to 700 additional UNHCR staff could also head to the region to beef up the 500-strong team already on the ground. The amount sought is supposed to cover the agency's needs over the next six months.