Over 300,000 Pakistanis displaced in conflict, says UN

May 12th, 2009 - 10:05 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Geneva, May 12 (IANS) The UN refugee agency has appealed to the international community to provide humanitarian aid for some 360,000 people displaced in the conflict in northwest Pakistan.
UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres Monday called for global solidarity in support of the displaced civilians.

The Pakistani Army launched a massive operation against the Taliban in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), killing hundreds of militants who vowed to attack the government after a failed peace deal to implement the Sharia (Islamic law) in the region.

“The number of displaced people registered with UNHCR for help since May 2 has now reached more than 360,000. Not everyone is registered and people continue to flee, many arriving only with what they can carry on their backs,” Guterres said.

“These are the same people who for decades showed great generosity to millions of Afghan refugees. Now it is time for the international community to show them the same generosity by supporting humanitarian programmes for the displaced Pakistanis,” he added.

The UN agency has assisted the government in setting up three new camps for the displaced people in Mardan and Swabi districts. It is also assessing the suitability of land identified by the government for setting up additional camps in the region, Geo TV reported.

The UNHCR is also working with the local authorities to increase the number of registration centres for aid distribution in Mardan, Swabi and Charsadda districts. About 20 centres are currently operating in the region.

The agency is distributing basic relief items such as tents, kitchen items, sleeping mats and blankets, among others for the displaced people through the non-governmental organisations and concerned government departments.

Guterres said more help is required. “This is a huge and rapidly unfolding emergency, which is going to require considerable resources beyond those that currently exist in the region.”

Meanwhile, the agency has announced to airlift about 120 tonnes of humanitarian supplies Tuesday from its stockpiles in Dubai for the affected population in Pakistan.

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