UN refugee chief seeks to open new camps in Pakistan for fleeing Afghans

UN refugee chief seeks to open new camps in Pakistan for fleeing Afghans

Ruud Lubbers
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today held talks in Islamabad on the possibility of opening new camps in Pakistan to accommodate the thousands of Afghans fleeing their country.

High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers, who is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with President Pervez Musharraf and other senior Pakistani officials, will repeat UNHCR's call for Pakistan to open its borders, and will urge greater flexibility by Pakistan in deciding which vulnerable Afghan refugees can enter the country, according to a UN spokesman.

UNHCR reported the number of Afghans who have illegally crossed into Pakistan could total more than 80,000. As a result, Mr. Lubbers has been discussing the possibility of immediately opening some camps that are being set up in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has stepped up food deliveries to Afghanistan from neighbouring countries, loading about 1,500 tonnes of food today from Peshawar. However, WFP says that insecurity, fuel shortages and the lack of trucks are complicating the distribution of food inside the country.

So far, the agency and its non-governmental partners have been able to distribute enough food to last for about one month for 2 million Afghans - only about a third of the Afghans who need food aid.