Accessibility links

Afghan Refugee Crisis Continues to Build - 2001-10-22


A United Nations official is encouraged by a Taleban order not to loot U.N. equipment and relief supplies in Afghanistan but Carolyn McAskie says there are no plans to set up formal refugee camps on the Afghan border with Pakistan.

U.N. Deputy relief coordinator McAskie told reporters there has been a positive response to an order from Taleban leader Mullah Omar to stop looting U.N. warehouses and return the stolen supplies. She says the World Food Program has sufficient resources to prevent starvation in Afghanistan this winter if the food can be delivered.

However, the refugee crisis continues to build. Large numbers of people have massed in a so-called "no-man's land" near the Chaman crossing into Pakistan. Many of them have apparently fled the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Ms. McAskie says Pakistan did allow several thousand Afghan refugees into the country this past weekend but have again closed the border. The U.N. official says, at this time, there are no plans to establish refugee facilities in the areas just beyond Pakistan's border. "It is just not practical nor is it normally humane," she said. "If a border is closed and you start feeding people just inside the border you will attract large numbers of people to come to what could be a dead end. It is not a good idea. Our focus is to work with the Pakistan authorities to assure them, because they have legitimate concerns, that the international community will look after these people when they come across."

Ms. McAskie says she is confident agreements can be reached with Pakistan for admission of more Afghan refugees.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kenzo Oshima is currently on a visit to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, three of Afghanistan's northern neighbors. Mr. Oshima is discussing ways to coordinate the delivery of relief supplies inside Afghanistan and Turkmenistan has already pledged broader cooperation in shipping the supplies.

XS
SM
MD
LG