43 Afghans die in Pakistani camp since May 1: UNHCR

AFP, June 8, 2001

ISLAMABAD, June 8 (AFP) - Some 43 people, mostly children, have died in the makeshift Jalozai camp for Afghan refugees in northwestern Pakistan since May 1, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said here Friday.

It said "extreme summer heat, congestion and unhygienic conditions" were having "adverse effects" on the 57,000 people at the site near Peshawar in North West Frontier Province.

"UNHCR and its partners have intensified efforts to ease the suffering of thousands of Afghans encamped at the inhospitable Jalozai site," it said in a statement.

"Significant progress has been made in providing better health care, access to water and improving the sanitary conditions."

Jalozai, a sea of plastic shelters on a treeless plain, has been the point of arrival for scores of thousands of Afghans fleeing drought and war in their homeland since September.

Many have been moved to better equipped refugee camps nearby, but the local Pakistani authorities have refused to accept that any of the more recent arrivals are genuine refugees.

Some 800,000 Afghans have fled their homes since mid-2000 due to the worst drought in memory and the civil war between the ruling Taliban militia and opposition forces.

Most are living in displacement camps inside Afghanistan.

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