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UN Refugee Chief Visits Pakistan - 2001-10-27


The U-N High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers has arrived in Pakistan amid growing concern about a possible new flood of refugees from neighboring Afghanistan.

Refugee officials say up to one-and-a-half million Afghans could try to flee their homeland into neighboring countries, including Pakistan and Iran, before the onset of winter.

Mr. Lubbers is holding talks in Islamabad and is scheduled to visit Pakistan's Quetta region near the Chaman border crossing, before flying to Iran next week.

Quetta has been the destination for thousands of refugees fleeing U-S air attacks around the southern Afghan city of Kandahar -- a Taleban stronghold. Many refugees are said to be lined up in Afghanistan near Pakistan, which has officially closed its border.

Pakistan is resisting calls by U-N refugee officials to let refugees enter a new camp near Quetta.

Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees have crossed into Pakistan since the terrorist attacks on the United States last month.

Pakistan as well as Iran are already home to millions of Afghans that have fled years of drought and more than two decades of civil war. Many other refugees are in severely overcrowded camps inside Afghanistan.

Long before the terrorist attacks on the United States last month, the United Nations said the Afghan refugee crisis was the worst in the world.

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