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UNHCR Begins Winter Aid Drive Across AfghanistanSalem-News.com
The relief items going out around the country include tents, blankets, plastic sheets, fuel, sleeping mats, lanterns, jerry cans, kitchen sets, soap and warm clothes.
(KABUL) - In the last week UNHCR has begun distribution of winter assistance to nearly quarter of a million people (40,000 families) in remote and inaccessible areas of Afghanistan, as well as in Kabul. The recipients are recent returnees from Pakistan and Iran, internally displaced people - including people displaced by conflict - and others at risk in the cold weather.
Winter temperatures in Afghanistan can fall to around -26 C and for this reason it is important that people are protected from the cold. UNHCR has primary responsibility for delivering winter assistance to returnees and vulnerable displaced people in rural areas of Afghanistan. Last winter, however, and because of difficult conditions in informal sites around Kabul, we also delivered help there. The work is a joint effort coordinated by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, OCHA, and the National Disaster Management Authority.
The relief items going out around the country include tents, blankets, plastic sheets, fuel, sleeping mats, lanterns, jerry cans, kitchen sets, soap and warm clothes. This year, 30,000 of those who will receive winter assistance will be people living in Kabul's informal settlements.
As well as providing help for the vulnerable, the winter distribution serves to mitigate against new displacement from rural communities where alternative support possibilities can otherwise be limited. Nearly 460,000 people have been displaced by conflict in Afghanistan. Most are in the south (137,000 persons), followed by the west (121,527) and east (95,134).
"We are aware that really destitute returnee and IDP groups; families headed by women, or elderly or disabled; and children, often face problems coping in the freezing temperatures of an Afghan winter.” said Dr. Peter Nicolaus, UNHCR Representative in Afghanistan. “This is why we distribute these items as the cold weather begins.”
Returned refugees and internally displaced people often live in extremely bad conditions in isolated communities - communities rarely seen by the general public and where access is very difficult. Those receiving our aid include really destitute returnees and IDP groups, families headed by women, or elderly or disabled, and children.
“Our joint winter assistance programme is designed to help people in these situations explained Jamaher Anwary, Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriation.
These winter packs will be distributed, more or less evenly throughout the regions, to newly returned Afghan refugee families, conflict induced IDPs and other members of the communities living in the east and south-east (7,000 packs) - where most Afghan refugees returned home this year; north and north-east (7,000 packs); the west region (5,500 packs); the south (7,000 packs); and more than 13,500 packs in the central and central highlands regions.
Since 2001, UNHCR has helped around 4.7 million Afghan refugees voluntarily return home. However, nearly three million registered Afghan refugees are still living in exile in Pakistan and Iran.
UNHCR leads Afghanistan's Protection Cluster, co-Chairs the IDP Task Force with the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, and is lead agency for the Emergency Shelter and NFI Cluster.
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