UN stepping up assistance to latest wave of conflict displaced Pakistanis
6 November 2009 – The United Nations refugee agency said today it is stepping up aid to people uprooted by military operations in the Pakistani region of South Waziristan, while highlighting the ongoing needs of around one million people still displaced from an earlier offensive in the northwest.
Since September, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been distributing relief items such as kitchen sets, jerry cans, quilts and sleeping mats to an estimated 175,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from South Waziristan.
“Security constraints have lead to some intermittent disruptions to aid efforts, but distribution is continuing through our local partners,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.
He said the agency will soon distribute some 35,000 tents to families staying with host communities in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), to allow the displaced people to pitch tents in the grounds of households which are hosting them, and alleviate overcrowding.
UNHCR is also supporting the registration of displaced people from South Waziristan. Some 350,000 people have now been registered in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank, though only about 175,000 people have been verified so far by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it has pre-positioned life-saving drugs in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank, including emergency health kits and cholera kits. It has also given over 50,800 doses of polio vaccine to displaced children being hosted in these two districts.
Among the key needs identified by WHO officials in conjunction with health chiefs in NWFP are to sustain a lifeline to provide medical and essential life-saving supplies to the two districts, and to strengthen the disease early warning system.
Meanwhile, an estimated one million people from previous waves of displacement out of Bajaur, Mohmand and Swat remain displaced and in need of ongoing humanitarian assistance, noted Mr. Mahecic.
UNHCR is currently preparing a package of extra relief supplies for winter for 88,000 people in this group who are in 10 camps in NWFP, and will replace existing tents with all-weather tents to provide extra protection.
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