UN says $543 mn needed for Pakistan’s displaced (Lead)

May 22nd, 2009 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 22 (IANS) The UN estimates that a whopping $543 million would be required for rehabilitating the 2.5 million civilians who have been displaced by the Pakistani military’s anti-Taliban operations in the country’s restive northwest.
“The scale of this displacement is extraordinary in terms of size and speed, and has caused incredible suffering,” acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Martin Mogwanja said in a statement.

“We are calling for generous support from the international community, in addition to the assistance being provided by both ordinary families and the national authorities,” he added.

A statement issued by the UN Information Centre here estimated that 165 projects presented by 52 UN agencies, as also national and international NGOs, would require $543 million to implement.

With the US having already committed $88 million, another $454 would still be required, the statement said.

It, however, did not take into account the $244 million pledged at a donors conference here Wednesday.

Speaking about the plight of the refugees, the statement said: “Traumatized by their journey, and leaving with virtually nothing, these vulnerable men, women, and children are in urgent need of food rations, safe water supply, medical assistance and shelter from soaring temperatures.”

UN agencies and humanitarian partners, including Pakistani and foreign NGOs and the federal and provincial authorities, “are working together to ensure to get relief to people as quickly and effectively as possible, and sustain services to them over the coming months”, the statement said.

“Displaced children need to be able to continue schooling, mothers and babies need special health and nutrition assistance, and all displaced families need access to primary and emergency medical care, as well as clean water and sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.

“In addition, the overstretched resources of host communities need to be supplemented to provide for the families they are supporting.”

The Pakistani military had gone into action April 26 after the Taliban reneged on a controversial peace accord with the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and moved south from their Swat headquarters to occupy Buner, which is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations had begun in Lower Dir, the home district of radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered the peace deal and who is the father-in-law of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah.

The operations subsequently spread to Buner and Swat. Close to 1,100 militants have so far been killed in the action, the military says. No consolidated figures have been released of casualties among the security forces but these are believed to be around 60.

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