Over 25 children dead in heat of Pakistani camp for Afghans: UN

AFP, May 18, 2001

GENEVA, May 18 (AFP) - The United Nations hit out at conditions in a Pakistani camp for Afghan refugees Friday, saying more than 25 children had died there of heatstroke and dehydration within two weeks.

A spokesman said the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was very concerned about the plight of the 70,000 Afghans at Jalozai camp near the country's border with Afghanistan.

"Aid workers say Jalozai is not fit for habitation and neither the shelter nor the sanitation situation can be substantially improved," he said.

"The combined effects of acute overcrowding, limited sanitation facilities and soaring summer heat are making life unbearable for the people in Jalozai, while at the same time raising fears of epidemics."

"In the past two weeks, as summer temperatures had soared above 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), more than 25 children have died of heatstroke and dehydration," the spokesman said.

Afghan child The UNHCR and other relief organisations had stepped up urgent assistance, supplying rehydration plants and special oral rehydration salts, he reported.

The volume of water trucked into Jalozai daily had been increased to 580,000 litres (145,000 gallons) daily and an additional 140,000 litres daily were to be provided from next week.

Because of the serious overcrowding at the site, which is near the Pakistani city of Peshawar, it had become extremely difficult to find space for more latrines, the spokesman said.

Pakistan has altogether taken in some two millon refugees fleeing civil war and drought in Afghanistan.

The United States on Thursday hit out at Pakistan for its treatment of Afghan refugees currently housed at the makeshift camp at Jalozai.

A senior State Department official said Pakistan was refusing to cooperate with the UNHCR as it sought to find a more adequate location than the overcrowded site.

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