New Afghan refugees unable to enter Killi Faizo holding site
QUETTA, Pakistan, Nov. 5 (UNHCR) - With the temporary staging site at Killi Faizo full, some 400 Afghans were waiting Monday to enter the facility in Pakistan's southern Baluchistan Province. At the same time, unconfirmed reports said some 3,000 refugees were living in the open near the Makaki camp in Taliban-controlled territory near the border with Iran.
No new vulnerable refugees have been able to enter the Killi Faizo site since Nov. 1. At the same time, negotiations are continuing between the U.N. refugee agency and Pakistani officials on moving the camp's residents to Roghani, a camp about 20 kilometres south of the Chaman border town.
"As a result, the situation is essentially stalled, with 2,245 individuals inside Killi Fiazo receiving a full aid package from UNHCR, the World Food Programme and other agencies, and those outside receiving next to nothing," UNHCR said in a statement Monday.
"With night-time temperatures dropping dramatically over the past few days, UNHCR is deeply concerned about the condition of these families living out in the open, and is currently discussing how to improve their situation with the local authorities," the statement added.
The agency said its staff in the area was planning to give blankets as well as high-protein biscuits to those outside the Killi Faizo site. They are also being provided with water from inside Killi Faizo while local benefactors are providing them with bread and other food items.
The agency said it was trying to find ways of assisting the so-called invisible refugees, Afghans who have crossed into Baluchistan Providence but have disappeared into old refugee camps or nearby Quetta City. Discussions are continuing between local authorities and UNHCR, UNICEF, Mercy Corps International and Save the Children (US) to find ways of helping new arrivals, especially in education and health.
UNHCR has also begun direct support to the front-line hospital in Chaman by providing 1.2 million tons of drugs donated by the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization and an obstetrics kit donated by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.
While key sections of the hospital, including the operating block, the laboratory, and the emergency ward are not functioning, some 10,000 measles vaccines are in stock and Médecins Sans Frontières, the French humanitarian organization, continues to vaccinate children.
Some 11 cases of severe malnutrition were identified at the Chaman border last week, along with acute respiratory infections and dysentery, UNHCR said Monday. "The malnutrition cases in particular have raised alarm that the food crisis may have turned a corner inside Afghanistan," the agency said. Severe malnutrition, according to experts, is a very late indicator of a lack of food.
Along the Iranian border with Iran, unconfirmed reports from the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and a non-governmental organization said some 3,000 Afghans were living out in the open near the Makaki camp on the Afghan side of the border.
The reports said the group was given some food and other assistance, but that they were not allowed to enter the Makaki camp, which is full with between 4,500 and 6,000 refugees. The Makaki camp is in Taliban-held territory. A second camp known as Mile-46 also run by the IRCS is inside a small pocket in Nirmoz Province that is controlled by forces affiliated with the opposition Northern Alliance.
With regards to North-West Frontier Province, the refugee agency said it was working with local authorities to relocate newly arrived refugees living in what it described as "overcrowded and destitute conditions" in the Jalozai camp. The plan is to transfer the refugees now in Jalozai and other camps to identified sites in the so-called Tribal Agencies areas close to the Afghan border.
Work is currently underway in eight of the 15 sites identified, with the Kotbai camp in Bajaur Agency north of Peshawar expected to be the first to become operational. "Relocation to new sites, set to start around November 11, will be voluntary and priority will be given to the most destitute," UNHCR said.
The refugee agency said some 4,100 Afghans arrived last Thursday at various crossing points in North-West Frontier Province, with another 4,500 arrivals on Friday. But UNHCR cautioned that it was not clear what percentage could be considered genuine new arrivals. The agency believes that well over 100,000 Afghans have entered Pakistan since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.