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Cablegate: Afghanistan Assists Pakistani Refugees

VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #0085 0080301
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 080301Z JAN 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2312
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 000085

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/FO DAS CAMP, SCA/A, PRM
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREF PREL PHUM PK AF
SUBJECT: Afghanistan Assists Pakistani Refugees

Ref: A - Kabul 28

1. (U) The Afghan government and international community - through
the auspices of the Afghan Red Crescent and an Afghan government
interagency disaster management committee - are providing food,
tents, blankets, fuel, cash, and other humanitarian assistance to
the families crossing the border to escape recent Sunni-Shia
violence in Pakistan's Kurram Agency (Ref A). Officials estimate
1,000 families have sought refuge in Khost and Paktia provinces,
with more arriving. Afghan officials and tribal elders from the
affected provinces have sent a letter to the Joint Afghan-Pakistani
Peace Jirga Commission requesting its intervention to resolve the
dispute in Kurram Agency.


2. (SBU) The Afghan government and UN officials are treating the
exodus as a short-term emergency, but warn that some provincial
families are hosting five or six refugee families and quickly
exhausting their food supplies. Refugee families consist mainly of
women and children, with adult males remaining in Pakistan to fight
or protect family assets. UN High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR)
officials believe this indicates the families' intent to return to
Pakistan. While Afghan officials categorize the families as 60
percent Pakistani and 40 percent Afghan, UNHCR believes that many of
the "Pakistani" families may be long-term but undocumented Afghan
residents in Pakistan. As provincial authorities prepare to
register the families for assistance, UNHCR has suggested that
nationality not be strictly investigated for fear the Pakistani
authorities would prevent the Afghan families from returning to
Kurram.

3. (SBU) President Karzai's order to assist the families comes as
Pakistan is ramping up efforts to repatriate its Afghan refugee
population. Karzai's widely reported offer of assistance (and Vice
President Khalili's statement at a Kabul emergency preparedness
meeting to let the refugees "stay as long as they like") are likely
the Karzai government's attempt to turn the tables on the Pakistanis
and be on the assisting side for once. If the fighting continues,
however, or if, as we have heard, the Waziri Taliban engage on the
side of the Sunnis and risk drawing in the Pakistani Army, the
situation could require long-term assistance and fresh resources
from the international community.

WOOD

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