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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN humanitarian chief gets first-hand look at site of Pakistani clashes

9 July 2009 – The United Nations humanitarian chief today visited the district of Buner in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the scene of the recent fighting between the Government and insurgents that uprooted over 2 million people.

On the third day of his visit to the country, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes spent time in the village of Sultanwas, which suffered the most extensive destruction of anywhere in the district during the fighting.

District officials said that more than half of those who had fled Buner because of the military operation had already returned, with more on the way.

“I saw no evidence today of continuing conflict in Buner, although I could visit only a small part of the district in the short time I had,” said Mr. Holmes, who is also Emergency Relief Coordinator.

“Clearly many people have made up their minds to return home, and have done so. That is welcome, but people need to be sure that the whole district is safe, with basic services reconnected, before normality can be assured.

“Meanwhile, it is essential for the Government and the humanitarian community, with donor support, to go on reducing the suffering of the displaced, and those who have been helping them,” he said.

Mr. Holmes also visited Daggar, the district centre, where he noted that most shops had opened, and that normal business seemed to be resuming.

The majority of the 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living with host families, in rented accommodations or in spontaneous settlements, while the rest are spread out across some 20 camps.

The UN humanitarian chief reaffirmed the need for short-term assistance to help people recover and resume their lives and livelihoods, and noted that recovery and reconstruction and the necessary improvement in basic services would require time and substantial resources.

Mr. Holmes is scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and donors, before wrapping up his four-day visit.

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