Pakistanis continue to flee violence in northwest, UN reports
26 October 2009 – Nearly 14,000 people fleeing the latest round of clashes between Government forces and militants in the north-western Pakistani region of South Waziristan, have been registered, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.
Joining another 80,500 people who have fled the area since June, they are being hosted by their extended families or are sheltering in rented accommodations, with no camps having been established as of yet.
As part of its contingency planning for the latest influx of uprooted people from South Waziristan, the UN has relief supplies pre-positioned and local partnerships in place. It has already been helping the first wave of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and is ready to enhance its assistance as numbers rise.
The world body and its partners have distributed more than 1,000 tons of food so far, with household items having reached some 30,000 people and hygiene kits having been delivered to 35,000 people.
Expressing its concern over the situation in South Waziristan, OCHA called on all parties to the conflict to ensure the safety of unarmed civilians, especially women and children, as well as safe passage for those escaping the violence.
There are now more than 180,000 registered displaced people – comprising 25,000 families – in the neighbouring Dera Ismail Khan and Tank districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
Over the weekend, aid agencies urged the warring parties to observe international humanitarian law ensuring safety for civilians, with 139,000 people having fled South Waziristan for NWFP.
“Those leaving South Waziristan have travelled over a forbidding terrain, with limited supplies and in conditions of fear and hardship,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Martin Mogwanja.
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