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1. The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, arrived in Islamabad on 28 October and has held consultations with the Pakistani Foreign Ministry and President Musharraf. The President and Mr. Brahimi agreed on the principles that must guide the resolution of the current conflict, namely that the unity of Afghanistan and its territorial integrity must be preserved, that a broad-based, multi-ethnic and fully representative Government must come into power, and that the political dispensation must be home-grown and fully owned by the people of Afghanistan. Mr. Brahimi is also meeting with a broad range of Afghan women and men to listen to their views on the best possible solution to the Afghan crisis. He stated that "if a way can be found to liberate and empower the people of Afghanistan, this is something the international community can eventually be proud of".
2. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Ruud Lubbers, has urged Pakistani authorities to show greater flexibility in deciding which Afghan refugees are allowed to enter Pakistan. Pakistani authorities have been permitting women, children, the elderly and the wounded to cross the border but Mr. Lubbers has asked Pakistan to also include men fleeing forced conscription in the vulnerable category. Testimonies of people fleeing from Afghanistan consistently indicate that both the Taliban and the opposition are trying to conscript men to fight in the war. Mr. Lubbers will also meet the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan today to seek assurances on the safety of UN staff in Afghanistan.
3. Afghan refugees arriving in Pakistan through the Chaman border crossing report that the health situation in the make-shift camps near Spin-Boldak inside Afghanistan is deteriorating rapidly. The refugees allege that the Taliban are preventing people from leaving Afghanistan, including those in need of urgent medical attention.
4. UN Agencies are increasingly concerned about the security and capacity of two makeshift camps in Nimruz province, on the Afghan side of the border with Iran. Many Afghans approaching the border express fears of forced recruitment by the Taliban, or of being used as human shields or being targeted by bandits and smugglers operating in the border area.
5. The population in the Makaki camp about two kilometers inside Afghanistan, in Taliban-controlled territory, had risen to approximately 7800 persons by 28 October. Makaki camp is operated by the Iranian Red Crescent Society which has indicated that the agency has ceased to register new arrivals since Makaki camp is close to reaching its capacity. New arrivals approaching Makaki camp are being referred to the Mile 46 camp which is located in a Northern Alliance controlled pocket in Nimruz province, exposing refugees to the additional danger of crossing the demarcation line between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance forces.
6. Between 22 and 28 October, WFP has delivered 8,400 tons of food to Afghanistan. This represents a significant increase compared to previous weeks in October but still falls short of the weekly target of 12,000 tons. WFP has resumed its deliveries from Quetta through the Chaman border crossing and is planning to increase its deliveries to northern Afghanistan once the Termez port in Uzbekistan becomes operational for barge shipments across the border river. It is also making plans to deploy short-haul trucks that could be used for internal distributions of food aid.
7. An IOM convoy from Mashhad carrying 13,000 blankets, 15,000 items of winter clothing, 3,000 kerosene lamps, 3,000 jerry cans and 70,000 bars of soap is expected to arrive in Herat tomorrow. A four-truck UNICEF convoy left Peshawar for Jalalabad on 26 October with collapsible water tanks, blankets, sweaters, winter boots and tents for 2,000 IDP families in Laghman province. The goods will be distributed by the Afghan Red Crescent Society and an NGO.
8. Mazar-I-Sharif and the North: The IOM office in Mazar-I-Sharif has reopened but 2,000 quilts destined for IDP camps have been looted. The remaining 3,000 quilts will be sent to the Baghe Sherkat and Amirabad IDP camps in Kunduz province. The IOM office in Kunduz, closed by the Taliban authorities two weeks ago, was allowed to reopen over the weekend to restart the distribution of non-food items. Two vehicles removed from the office have not yet been returned. Several NGOs have reported that their offices have been returned to them without equipment and supplies.
9. Approximately 500,000 IDPs scattered around Taliban-held provinces in northern Afghanistan live in very poor conditions. The ICRC has distributed non-food relief items to 7,000 of them in the areas of Baba-e-Yadgar and Arzana. Reports also indicate that a large number of IDPs who were living in spontaneous settlements in Sholgara and Pul-e-Barak are now moving to areas in the outskirts of Mazar-I-Sharif. This movement is apparently due to increasing fighting between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban forces in Southern Balkh. To the extent security conditions permit, NGOs are trying to assess the needs of these IDPs.
10. Herat and the West: IOM staff in Herat have been distributing blankets, jerry cans, kerosene lamps and soap in the Maslakh and Shaidayee IDP camps. Preparations for the winter are also continuing with the positioning of 3.5 million mud bricks to reinforce shelters and tents.
11. Kandahar and the South: WFP has not distributed food in Kandahar since September 13 and believes that no food aid is available from any other sources. WFP is also concerned about certain districts in the provinces of Zabul and Kandahar, where about 1,000 tons of food are required to sustain the vulnerable population until the end of December.
12. This situation report is also available on the OCHA Website http://www.reliefweb.int.
This situation report does not necessarily represent the official view of the United Nations.
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