20,000 Afghan refugees face starvation: WFP

NNI, 24th April, 1999

ISLAMABAD (NNI): The United Nations World Food Programme Friday feared that some 20,000 Afghan refugees living in Pakistan would face starvation if the WFP does not get funds.

WFP spokesperson in Islamabad Susan Manuel told reporters that the emergency aid would be terminated to Afghan refugees on April 30 unless it gets new funds.

She said that four year ago the UN agency had stopped all but emergency development food aid to the millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

"Use of food for development and to induce the afghan conservative afghan families to educate their daughter would however continue," she said.

Some 3.27 million Afghans took refuge in Pakistan in 80s after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Around 2 million of them have returned since the collapse of Communist regime in 1992. But the remaining 1.2 million still form the largest single refugee group in the world.

A senior of the UNHCR in Islamabad Guillermo Bottocchi said on the occasion that one-lakh afghan refugees had been returning annually with the help of UNHCR. But the process has slowed down for want of fund.

The UNHCR asked for 16.7 million for its afghan repatriation. But a got a budget of 9.1 million dollar for general assistance and just one million dollar for refugees repatriation.

"We have stopped all UNHCR assistance to individual refugees," he said adding that assistance is provided on a community basis to make the refugees self-reliance.

About 7500 refugees have been repatriated so for this year and the figure are extend to rise 10,000 by the end June.

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