US asked for a/c tents for Swat displaced

May 20th, 2009 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, May 20 (IANS) The US has been asked for air-conditioned tents to house the 2.5 million civilians who have fled the Pakistan military’s anti-Taliban operations in the country’s restive northwest and who have been housed in 22 relief camps.
Given the approaching “scorching summer”, the US has been asked “environment control” tents, Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed, who heads the Special Support Group (SSG) that is coordinating the rehabilitation efforts, told reporters at the Chaklala airbase in the adjacent garrison town of Rawalpindi here after receiving a relief consignment from Egypt.

“These tents will help beat the heat of summer, especially for those IDPs (internally displaced persons) who may suffer heat stroke in the sweltering summer days,” he added.

The consignment, which was handed over by Egyptian Ambassador to Pakistan Magdy Amer comprises food, medical equipment, medicines, tents and blankets.

“This consignment is a symbol of solidarity with our Pakistani brothers who have been displaced from their hometowns,” APP news agency quoted Amer as saying.

Explaining the SSG’s functioning, Ahmed said it had chalked out a four-pronged strategy of relief, recovery, return and rehabilitation/reconstruction.

Work had been initiated on the first two phases and that on the next two would begin after normalcy returns to the Swat, Buner and Dir districts of the North West Frontier Province (NFWP) after the military action against the Taliban concludes.

The security forces had gone into action April 26 after the Taliban violated a controversial peace accord with the NWFP government and moved south from their Swat headquarters to occupy the Buner district that is just 100 km from Islamabad.

The operations had initially begun in Lower Dir, the home district of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered the peace accord, and later spread to Buner and Swat.

The military says over 1,000 militants have so far been killed. However, no consolidated figures have been released of casualties among the security forces.

The military action has seen nearly 2.5 million civilians fleeing the fighting. The Pakistani government has released Rs.1 billion for their relief and appealed for massive internal assistance in the effort.

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