Pakistani returnees receive first food rations from UN agency
1 July 2009 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has started providing regular food rations to families returning home to tribal areas in Pakistan’s northwest that they had fled after the upsurge in violence in the region over the past year.
Monthly rations are being distributed from a hub in the Bajaur area of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), WFP reported today, and enough supplies have been pre-positioned to feed 2,000 families.
The agency said the distribution process is being closely coordinated with local authorities and is taking place through a local partner non-governmental organization (NGO).
Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP’s country representative in Pakistan, said the agency was “providing a lifeline to those who have been forced to abandon their homes due to heavy fighting.
“We began to feed them at the start of this crisis when they fled their villages, and for those who feel ready to go back to their homes, we’re providing the assistance they need to bring stability back to their lives.”
Only small numbers of the estimated 2 million people who have fled their homes as a result of deadly fighting between Government forces and militants in north-western Pakistan have begun to return to their former villages.
The focus of WFP’s relief work remains those people living in camps or with host communities, and so far the agency has been able to reach 100,000 people each day through a series of humanitarian hubs and distribution points.
In total, the agency has provided rations to about 1.5 million people since the start of last month, and it says it has enough supplies to last another two months despite a steep funding shortfall.
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