Fighting in Pakistan's North Waziristan region uproots more than 400,000

News Stories, 24 June 2014

© UNHCR/Q.K.Afridi
A Pakistani woman displaced by an earlier wave of fighting in a border area. She has seen much hardship in her long life.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 24 (UNHCR) The current military offensive by Pakistan's military against Taliban militants in the north of the country has displaced more than 400,000 people and the number continues to rise.

According to the latest government registration figures, 435,429 people, including some 183,000 children, have fled from combat zones in North Waziristan agency since mid-June. The newly displaced are being registered in Saidgai, as well as Khurram and Alizai in Kurram Agency to the north-east of North Waziristan.

Most of the families have sought refuge in different parts of Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan and Tank in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. There are also reports of families now arriving in Punjab and Balochistan. Almost all the internally displaced people are being hosted by local communities.

"The government of Pakistan and our UN and humanitarian community partners expect up to half-a -million people could be displaced by the current military operations," UNHCR spokesman Dan McNorton told journalists in Geneva. He said this would bring the total number of displaced people from the tribal regions of the country to 1.5 million (including 930,000 uprooted in various waves since 2009).

UN officials this week met with the Ministry for States and Frontier Regions the coordinating ministry for relief efforts and offered support for humanitarian operations in the area of protection and registration as well as the provision of emergency relief items. The government had made a formal request to the UN for assistance.

A key challenge for aid agencies is access to the areas where the displaced are arriving. The UN and partners have called for full and unimpeded access to the affected populations to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

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Pakistan Earthquake: A Race Against the Weather

With winter fast approaching and well over a million people reported homeless in quake-stricken Pakistan, UNHCR and its partners are speeding up the delivery and distribution of hundreds of tonnes of tents, blankets and other relief supplies from around the world.

In all, the NATO-UNHCR airlift, which began on 19 October, will deliver a total of 860 tonnes of supplies from our stockpiles in Iskenderun, Turkey. Separately, by 25 October, UNHCR-chartered aircraft had so far delivered 14 planeloads of supplies to Pakistan from the agency's stocks in Copenhagen, Dubai and Jordan.

On the ground, UNHCR is continuing to distribute aid supplies in the affected areas to help meet some of the massive needs of an estimated 3 million people.

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UNHCR does not normally respond to natural disasters, but it quickly joined the UN humanitarian effort because of the sheer scale of the destruction, because the quake affected thousands of Afghan refugees, and because the agency has been operational in Pakistan for more than two decades. North West Frontier Province (NWFP), one of the regions most severely affected by the quake, hosts 887,000 Afghan refugees in camps.

While refugees remain the main focus of UNHCR's concern, the agency is integrated into the coordinated UN emergency response to help quake victims.

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At lower elevations, UNHCR and its partners have dispatched emergency teams to camps to train members of the Pakistani military in site planning, camp management, winterization and the importance of water and sanitation – all crucial to containing disease during the long winter ahead.

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