Conflict in Pakistan left over 500,000 displaced: UN (Lead)

May 12th, 2009 - 8:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, May 12 (DPA) The UN refugee agency said Tuesday it has registered 501,496 people so far in a new influx of displaced people fleeing violence in northwest Pakistan.
They join 550,000 people displaced late last year who have since not returned home.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) meanwhile reported it had sent 120 tonnes of aid, mostly emergency shelter supplies and mosquito nets, to the region.

Among those fleeing were a small number of Afghans who were in Pakistan as refugees having escaped their home country due to the violence there. About 1,000 have asked to return to Afghanistan.

The head of the UNHCR, Antonio Guterres, said in a statement that more resources were needed to deal with the developing situation. He noted that Pakistanis in the affected region have been “extremely generous” to Afghan refugees but now find themselves in need of assistance.

Spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva that local residents of safe zones “have opened their doors to receive people fleeing the fighting”.

The World Food Programme said it was feeding some 645,000 people, though this was made difficult as the vast majority were not living in refugee camps but with other people.

Some UN agencies as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross have said they have no access to Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.

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