New camp for Afghan refugees opens


October 24, 2001

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    A new refugee camp near the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan. Photo: Patrick Foley/Mercy Corps Photo:

A new camp opened today to provide shelter and immediate assistance to Afghan refugees who are crossing into Pakistan. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) established the camp near the Chaman border crossing, in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan and aid agencies.

Mercy Corps and colleague agency Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) were the first aid agencies to arrive at the new camp. Mercy Corps transported medical supplies and equipment for the camp's emergency health facility being constructed by MSF. The facility is providing basic health services and measles vaccinations to the recent arrivals, many of whom have gone without any medical attention for many months. It is currently staffed by MSF and Mercy Corps personnel.

“Mercy Corps met yesterday with other partner organizations at the site of the new refugee camp to plan the camp layout and work out operational details,” reports Mercy Corps Founder Dan O'Neill from Pakistan. “By the time the meeting was over, tents were already being pitched and people were moving in. This camp is clearly meeting an urgent need.”

The 300m x 300m camp is expected to house up to 1000 refugees. The refugees are being provided with food, water, blankets, ground cover and a tent. This camp is considered “transitional” while contingency planning continues for other camps in the area. Additional refugee camps are likely to open in the near future if large numbers of refugees continue to cross the border into Pakistan.