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MSF in Pakistan, 2002
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Supporting the displaced in border zones
MSF has worked with Afghan refugees in Pakistan since 2000. The late 2001 bombing campaign in Afghanistan pushed the number of refugees already fleeing the civil war and persistent drought to over 2.2 million in Pakistan alone.
MSF teams helped care for the new refugees in camps near Peshawar and Chaman, as well as continuing work in the existing camp at Jalozai. As the camps quickly filled to capacity, plans were made to move 70,000 refugees to new sites dangerously close to the border with Afghanistan. MSF decried the decision, calling on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to select more appropriate sites.
More than 1,200 Afghan families were repatriated by April 2002 while others continued fleeing to Pakistan. The only border crossing point between the two countries, near Chaman, opened intermittently and was again closed in February 2002. By mid-2002, an estimated 60,000 people were trapped at Spin Boldak and the "Chaman waiting area," just inside the Afghan border. MSF teams support these displaced Afghans and a further 60,000 who reached the Chaman refugee camps with basic health care, water and sanitation projects, and advocacy activities.
The camp at Jalozai, where Afghan refugees had lived for years in deplorable conditions, was closed in February 2002. MSF teams saw over 50,000 patients, conducted a mass vaccination of children and built more than 1,200 latrines between late 2000 and the camp's closure.
In February 2002, as the conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir intensified, MSF provided care to displaced people on both sides of the border. MSF completed its activities in Pakistani-administered Kashmir in June 2002.