UN refugee agency faces difficulties constructing camps in Pakistan

UN refugee agency faces difficulties constructing camps in Pakistan

With the security situation in Pakistan posing serious obstacles to the humanitarian effort under way in the region, work on prospective refugee campsites in Quetta and Peshawar remained on hold for the third day in a row, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

In a statement released at its Geneva headquarters, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the difficult security situation in Pakistan "has drastically limited the freedom of movement of UNHCR international staff, with supplies being ferried mostly by local contractors." Despite these problems, UNHCR continues to build stockpiles of relief items in the areas bordering Afghanistan.

The agency also announced that it would resume its relief supply airlifts, which had been briefly interrupted due to airspace restrictions in the region. Up to ten airlifts are planned over the next two weeks, if security conditions permit. The flights will alternate between Copenhagen and Peshawar and Copenhagen and Quetta, the key locations where UNHCR is building relief stocks to handle any refugee influx from Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) today announced plans to accelerate its overland deliveries to Afghanistan, using food convoys from Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The convoys will each carry enough food for nearly 700,000 hungry Afghans for one week. Some 40 trucks have already departed Peshawar.

WFP said the deliveries would raise the total food stocks inside Afghanistan to over 12,000 tonnes, sufficient for the needs of over 3.4 million people for one week. But the agency also cautioned that distribution networks, which have been disrupted, must be rebuilt.