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Pakistan Update

Briefing notes

Pakistan Update

12 June 2009

This morning in Islamabad, UNHCR and other UN staff held a special ceremony to pay homage to colleagues killed in the bombing of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar on Tuesday night. Representatives from UNHCR, UNICEF and UNFPA paid tribute to their fallen colleagues.

UNHCR staff member Aleksandar Vorkapic was killed alongside another colleague from UNICEF and three from UNFPA. Mr. Vorkapic, 44, had volunteered for our emergency response roster and was deployed to Pakistan last month, along with a team of other specialists, to help the hundreds of thousands of displaced people in north-west Pakistan. We are devastated by this senseless loss and convey our deepest condolences to his family.

UNHCR has been grappling with the operational challenges posed by security risks in Pakistan for some time. Despite the difficult security environment, we have continued our work in the region helping 1.7 million Afghan refugees and more recently some 2 million internally displaced Pakistanis. We have a strong field presence with more than 200 regular staff in three offices (Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta), with additional staff deployed recently as part of the emergency response team.

In the wake of this recent attack, however, we are reviewing the way we operate and assessing what adjustments need to be made to ensure the safety of our staff. There is no question of pulling out. We are committed to helping the millions of displaced people in the region. Our operations have continued this week, and we have been working with our partners to register new arrivals in camps and to improve conditions - installing fencing, shades over tents and privacy walls. We intend to remain responsive to humanitarian needs and flexible in how we deliver them.

There are currently 1.9 million people registered displaced people verified and confirmed by the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA). Thousands of family forms from the fast-track registration process are yet to be cross checked, and final figure is expected to be significantly higher.