Skip to main content

Head of UN refugee agency to examine plight of displaced Afghans in south

Head of UN refugee agency to examine plight of displaced Afghans in south

Ruud Lubbers
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, left today for Afghanistan, where he is scheduled to look at the situation facing displaced people in the southern part of the country and the different solutions required to help the government resolve that problem.

"There are more than 400,000 displaced persons in southern Afghanistan, a region that has suffered the effects of a persistent drought for some four years, and seen the arrival of thousands of ethnic Pashtuns fleeing isolated attacks in some parts of the north of the country," UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski told a press briefing in Geneva.

Mr. Lubbers is also scheduled to visit Spin Boldak, where some 30,000 displaced Afghans are sheltered in four camps perched on the border with Pakistan, and travel to Zhare Dasht, a newly opened interim camp west of Kandahar that currently shelters some 1,800 Afghans recently relocated from one of the squalid border sites.

During his five-day mission, the High Commissioner is also expected to meet with President Hamid Karzai and other senior Afghan officials, the spokesman said. Mr. Lubbers will spend two days in the capital, Kabul, also meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, and other senior UN officials.

He is also slated to consult with UNHCR's staff on the repatriation operation that has so far assisted more than 1.5 million Afghans to return and review the agency's goals for next year.