IRC To Open Refugee Camp In Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province
The IRC is completing work on the Basu Camp in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province for newly arrived Afghan refugees from the minority Hazara ethnic group.
"The Hazara refugees have been in a desperate situation, with nowhere to go," says Djin Tjik, IRC's field coordinator for Pakistan. "Because they are minorities, they have always suffered persecution and recent arrivals in Pakistan have been unable to settle in the mostly Pashtun-dominated camps."
The camp will open next week for 500 refugees being transferred from the Peshawar area by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Subsequently the UN plans to transfer groups of 500 refugees to the camp three times weekly. At capacity it will hold 7,500 refugees.
The IRC will manage the camp, register refugees and oversee all assistance, including medical services, water supply, sanitation, washing facilities and distribution of food and supplies, such as quilts, mattresses and kerosene lamps.
Basu Camp is one of 10-12 camps being established in coordination with UNHCR for the estimated 165,000 Afghan refugees who have arrived in Pakistan since September, even though the border is nominally closed.
"Many of these new arrivals have found shelter with relatives in existing refugee camps and settlements in urban areas of the border province," said Sigurd Hanson, director of IRC programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "But most of these so-called 'invisibles' are in dire need of assistance. Since they entered Pakistan unofficially, they have not been eligible for UN rations and have been difficult to access."
The IRC is preparing to provide a three-month supply of food to some 8,500 destitute refugee families in and around Peshawar, many of whom have taken in newly arrived refugees. These Afghan families are ethnic Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara and Turkmen. The distribution is slated for later this month.