Afghan refugees stranded
UN "extremely concerned" by conditions at Jalozai - BBC
Pakistan has refused a United Nations request to open a new refugee camp, stranding 80,000 Afghans in fast deteriorating conditions.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it was now "extremely concerned" for the thousands of refugees in the makeshift Jalozai camp near Peshawar.
Refugees there are so desperate that humanitarian agencies cannot distribute aid for fear of stampedes.
The UNHCR said about 170,000 Afghans have fled drought and fighting since September, but facilities in Pakistan are now full.
"UNHCR requested the government to provide a new site," the agency said in a statement. "However, Pakistan has rejected our request," it said.
The authorities in Pakistan say they cannot take in any more Afghans, especially in the North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan. Some two million are already in the country.
The UN said that finding a new site for the refugees at Jalozai was now a matter of "utmost urgency". They are currently living under plastic sheeting without running water or toilets.
On Wednesday, the United States airlifted tents, blankets and plastic sheets to Peshawar, but they could not be distributed and were to be taken to a different camp. The danger of epidemics at Jalozai is rife.
Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider, who has just visited Kabul, said the Taleban had agreed to establish camps inside the country to stem the flow of people leaving because of drought and fighting.
Although Pakistan has closed its border to new refugees, they are still coming in illegally. Authorities have also been deporting Afghans without proper documentation.
The US ambassador, William Milam, who visited Peshawar, called for the deportations to be stopped immediately. He said there was a lack of transparency in the Pakistani Government about who was being deported and why, and that the matter was being discussed with the authorities.
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