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Afghan Refugee Crisis Worsens - 2001-10-20


Thousands of Afghans have fled to Pakistan to escape U-S airstrikes, as U-N officials warn of increased difficulties in delivering aid inside the war-torn country.

At least five-thousand refugees --mostly women and children -- crossed into Pakistan at the Chaman border post today (Saturday). It was the largest single-day mass migration since U-S -led air raids began two weeks ago.

Thirty-five hundred refugees from Afghanistan's southern Kandahar region left the country on Friday. U-N officials say at least 10-thousand others are still in Afghanistan waiting for their chances to leave. The officials also say civil unrest and a rise in reports of bandits on the roads are adding to the misery of migrating Afghans.

A United Nations spokesman says attacks against U-N agencies in Afghanistan are increasing. Antonio Donini told reporters in Islamabad bases for aid groups were being taken over and looted, and humanitarian workers had been beaten. He said delivering aid to the desperate Afghan people will become increasingly difficult, if the situation continues to deteriorate.

Mr. Donini also urged all of the United Nations' Afghan employees to avoid placing themselves in danger to protect U-N facilities in Afghanistan.

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