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UN offices in Pakistan attacked following air strikes against Afghanistan

UN offices in Pakistan attacked following air strikes against Afghanistan

Following the air strikes against Afghanistan, United Nations offices in Pakistan have been attacked by angry demonstrators but no personnel were injured, UN officials said today.

When the UN learned of the military action unfolding in Afghanistan, it instructed all staff in Pakistan to remain at home, "therefore, none of our personnel in Quetta were present when an agitated crowd forcibly entered UNICEF [UN Children's Fund] offices there and set it on fire," said Eric Falt, the Director of the UN Information Centre in Islamabad. He told the press that the building was "substantially damaged" and five UNICEF vehicles were extensively burned.

Today, groups also demonstrated in front of the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Special Mission for Afghanistan (UNSMA) in Quetta, smashing windows. Mr. Falt said the UN had requested extra security in Quetta, as well as in Peshawar.

"Despite all these constraints of various kinds that we are encountering, we have to remain operational as much as possible, and focus on the task and the mandate that we have," he said. "This means trying to continue humanitarian assistance to the people inside Afghanistan and preparing for a possible outflow of refugees into neighbouring countries, starting with Pakistan."

UNHCR spokesman Yusuf Hassan said the agency was "racing against time to get essential supplies in place and sites developed for an initial influx of Afghans into the neighbouring countries." He added that UNHCR was prepared to provide shelter in tents and blankets for up to 1 million new arrivals.

A spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP), Khaled Mansour, said the agency was curtailing its food deliveries into Afghanistan "for the time being, but movement of food inside the country still continues and stocks exist." A convoy of 14 trucks carrying 525 tonnes is scheduled to arrive in Herat before the end of the week.