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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 22:51 GMT
Afghan refugees face bleak future
Afghan refugees
Aid is urgently needed to ease desperate conditions
By Suzannah Price in Karachi

The United Nations has warned that tens of thousands of Afghan refugees could find themselves living in a death camp unless they receive aid urgently.


Grim statistics reveal that 19 people died in the first two weeks of February and a child dies every day at the makeshift camp at Jallozai in Pakistan.

But these are just the victims who are recorded and the true number could be much higher.

The UN refugee agency says the deaths are preventable and the suffering of the 80,000 refugees at the camp in Pakistan's north west frontier province could be eased.

Desperate conditions

The Afghans, who fled from drought and fighting are living under plastic sheeting with no latrines or running water.

Afghan refugees
Pakistan says it cannot accept any more refugees
At present they suffer from the cold but there are warnings of impending health problems, both for refugees and local people, once temperatures begin to rise.

The UN says it has enough supplies to help the refugees, but the overcrowding and the desperate state of the Afghans makes it very difficult to distribute aid.

However, the real reason the international agencies are not working at the camps is because the Pakistani authorities have refused them permission to do so.

They believe any help would encourage the refugees to stay rather than return to Afghanistan.

Pakistan, which says it cannot cope with any more refugees, has also failed to offer another, more suitable, site.

The UN says many of those at Jallozai are legally considered as refugees because they are victims of war and should not be returned involuntarily to the country they have left.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | South Asia
UN warns of Afghan catastrophe
31 Jan 01 | South Asia
Cold snap kills Afghan refugees
11 Jan 01 | South Asia
Afghan refugees' unending plight
09 Jan 01 | South Asia
UN moves to save Afghan refugees
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