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SLUG: 2-285399 UN Aid/Afghanistan (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=01/18/02

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

NUMBER=2-285399

TITLE=U-N AID/AFGHANISTAN (L-Only)

BYLINE=DALE GAVLAK

DATELINE=GENEVA

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: The United Nations refugee agency says (Friday) it has begun moving Afghan refugees from a no-man's land on the Afghan side of the border to camps within Pakistan. Refugees have been pouring into the area for weeks, but the Pakistani authorities had been refusing to allow them to enter the country. V-O-A's Dale Gavlak has more.

TEXT: The U-N refugee agency says that it already has moved 26-hundred Afghans from the border area to U-N-run camps inside Pakistan. Peter Kessler of the U-N-H-C-R says the agency acted quickly after Pakistani authorities approved the relocation on Tuesday. The refugee official says the agency plans to bring in thousands of people each day to the camps.

/// KESSLER ACT ///

Some of these people have been living in very difficult conditions for weeks now, and need to be gotten out of the border zone and into sites where there are proper medical facilities, N-G-Os (Non-Governmental Organizations) and other care provided.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Kessler estimates there are over 13-thousand Afghan refugees in the border areas of southern Afghanistan and Pakistan. He says the vast majority of them came there to avoid fighting and instability in the region around Kandahar, one of the last holdouts of the Taleban.

Mr. Kessler says that U-N-H-C-R has re-started its work in Kandahar, and is assisting some 20-thousand people there.

/// 2ND KESSLER ACT ///

This will help, we think, to stabilize the situation, and eventually lead, we believe, to the end for people to try to escape into Pakistan, if they have enough aid in that area.

/// END ACT ///

Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration says it has begun a program to help Afghans return to their country. Organization officials say that, so far, more that 15-hundred Afghans, 20 percent of them women, have signed up with I-O-M's return program.

I-O-M spokeswoman Niurka Pineiro says many of them are people who want to help revive Afghanistan's cultural life.

/// PINEIRO ACT ///

One includes a lady who is working as a hairdresser in the state of Virginia in the U-S. But she is trained as a theater person. She is going back to, hopefully, restore the theater in Kabul. We also have a man who is working in university in Germany. He is an orientalist. He is going back to run the archeology preservation and restoration department of that ministry. Two are journalists, and will be working with the Afghan news agency.

/// END ACT ///

Ms. Pineiro says Afghanistan's interim government is welcoming all qualified Afghans to return home to help rebuild their country. (Signed)

NEB/DG/KL/TW



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