UNHCR aids group of Afghans fleeing air strikes; UN anti-measles drive gathers speed
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that it had moved to a refugee camp in southern Pakistan about 1,000 Afghans who were part of a larger group that had unexpectedly arrived earlier this week in the no-man's land border area after fleeing bombardments in Afghanistan.
In an operation that began yesterday, the Afghans went to the Landi Kareze camp, about 15 kilometres west of the Chaman border, Fatoumata Kaba, a spokesman for the agency, told a news briefing in Islamabad.
At a time when thousands of Afghan refugees were crossing back into Afghanistan via the Chaman border, these families began to arrive near the Killi Faizo staging camp at the border on New Year's day, after having travelled sometimes for as many as 20 days.
Some of the refugees interviewed by UNCHR explained that they had to flee their villages more than two weeks ago because of bombardments; others mentioned drought as a cause for flight. "We feel that if there is assistance inside southern Afghanistan, this influx may stop," the spokesman said. "Unfortunately, insecurity in southern Afghanistan continues to hinder delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance."
Meanwhile, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported good turnouts in Kabul for its ongoing measles immunization campaign, with a steady stream of parents taking their children to the 200 immunization centres in and around the city.
The Kabul phase will run for roughly two weeks before the campaign fans out to other parts of the country, UNICEF spokesperson Chulho Hyun said. Vaccines and syringes will be sent to Herat this weekend, supplementing supplies already on the ground. "The goal is to immunize 690,000 kids in the western region from the middle of the month," the spokesman said. "Similarly, the target population in the eastern region is around 700,000."