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Cablegate: Kunar Preparing for Influx of Refugees From Bajaur

VZCZCXRO7691
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2779/01 2910347
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170347Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5858
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 7044
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 8029

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002779

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM, SCA/P
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF ETRD EFIN AF PK TI

SUBJECT: Kunar Preparing for Influx of Refugees from Bajaur

KABUL 00002779 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) This is a joint Embassy Kabul/Embassy Islamabad cable.

2. (SBU) Summary: An estimated 180 Afghan families living in
Pakistan have fled into Afghanistan's Kunar province after Bajaur
Agency issued an October 3 order directing all Afghans to leave
within three days. Kunar Province's Department of Refugees and
Repatriation (DoRR) estimates that an additional 20,000 Afghans
could migrate into Kunar based on interviews conducted with the
families that have registered over the past few days. However,
UNHCR in Islamabad and the Governor of the Northwest Frontier
Province (NWFP) in Pakistan did not think that was likely. Pashtun
tribal leaders from the elected Kunar Provincial Council met on
October 6 to pledge their support to provincial authorities to
accommodate any influx of new refugees from Pakistan. In keeping
with Pashtunwali tradition, the overall sentiment of Kunar residents
remains one of acceptance and the desire to assist the returning
Afghans. End Summary.

3. (SBU) On October 3, the Political Agent in Bajaur Agency,
Pakistan issued an order for Afghans to leave within three days.
UNHCR's Country Representative met with the Governor of NWFP October
10 to express concern and clarify whether those being expelled were
not registered refugees; UNHCR came away satisfied that they were
not. The Governor said the order was aimed at those illegally in
Pakistan, and was motivated by security concerns related to the
current military operations against militants. Between 3000-5000
people had left, while about 400 moved to Lower Dir in Pakistan.
UNHCR has heard that an expulsion order was also issued in Taxila
(near Islamabad) and will send a team to check. UNHCR is concerned
that similar orders may be issued in Khyber and Kurram Agencies - a
much more serious matter given the large number of Afghans living
there. (Note. Embassy Islamabad will follow up to see whether
Pakistani officials have such plans. End Note)

4. (U) Kunar's Director of Refugees and Repatriation Sardar Khan
reports there are 4,391 Afghan returnee and Pakistani refugee
families living in Kunar province, concentrated in Shigal, Marawara,
and Dangam districts. He therefore estimates a total of
approximately 23,000 displaced people residing in Kunar - based on
an estimate of five persons per family plus an additional 1,000
unregistered persons. Media reports of up to 40,000 refugees in
Kunar seem to be exaggerated. Refugees, comprised mostly of women
and children, have settled primarily with friends or family.
Provincial authorities estimate that two-thirds of the families are
Pakistani and one-third Afghan.

5. (U) Media and UN estimates of Afghan refugees remaining in
Bajaur Tribal Agency range from 50,000 to 70,000. Approximately 30
percent of the refugees are originally from Kunar province while the
rest are predominately from Nuristan, Laghman and Nangarhar
provinces. DoRR expects that the majority of refugees from Kunar
province will return to their extended families living within the
border districts of Narai, Dangam, Shigal, Marawara, Kas Konar, and
Noorgal.

6. (U) UNHCR has taken the lead role in coordinating all
humanitarian assistance (HA) efforts of UN organizations (UNHCR,
UNICEF, WFP), in cooperation with ICRC, in Kunar province. UNHCR has
already committed to the construction of 3,000 room-additions to
existing dwellings to shelter refugee families that are living in
tents. Afghan Red Crescent continues to verify numbers of refugees
and distributed aid to 2,123 families in Shigal district during the
last week of September. Most refugees have been arriving in Kunar
with little more than the clothes on their backs.

7. (U) Provincial authorities anticipate the greatest need will be
food; however, other assistance will still be required, especially
material aid for winterization. To address immediate needs, Task
Force Duke's Civil Military Operations (CMO) ordered significant
quantities of food and material supplies and is ready to provide
more assistance if requested by the provincial government.

8. (U) Governor Wahidi has previously rejected the establishment of
free-standing refugee camps in Kunar, however he admitted he would
revisit this issue should a larger influx of displaced people occur.
A single camp currently exists in Kas Kunar district, supporting

KABUL 00002779 002.2 OF 002


750 resident returnee families. Provincial authorities are in the
process of designing a fully contained city in the vicinity of the
existing camp and have set aside approximately 1500 acres of land
for this purpose. The new city will be able to accommodate
approximately 10,000 residents and include construction of a market,
school, and hospital. DoRR expects that many of the new people from
Bajaur could be accommodated once the project is completed.

9. (U) WHO confirmed four cases of cholera in Kunar, however, the
outbreak has been controlled. Afghan Minister of Public Health
Fatemi announced on Monday that there are 750 cases of diarrhea
across Kunar, Samangan, and Laghman provinces, resulting in 16
deaths. Kunar DoPH will continue to monitor the treatment and
status of these cases. TF Duke CMO is ordering an additional 25,000
units of electrolyte replacement therapy/oral rehydration therapy
(ERT/ORT) to supplement the existing stockpile of 5,000 units needed
to treat diarrhea cases.

10. (U) Provincial authorities and international organizations are
working closely to assist tribal leaders in managing the existing
returnee/refugee population and expected influx of new noncombatants
fleeing conflict. Although ICRC claims that it has all the HA
resources it needs to handle both the existing population and the
potential influx, TF Duke CMO - through UNHCR - will continue to
ensure adequate aid supplies are available to provincial
authorities.

11. (U) POLOFF, Embassy Islamabad has cleared on this cable.

WOOD

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