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Update on relief operations for displaced in north-west Pakistan

Briefing notes

Update on relief operations for displaced in north-west Pakistan

10 February 2009

As part of a broader UN humanitarian response, UNHCR is expanding its relief operations in north-west Pakistan to help those fleeing fighting in Swat district and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Latest estimates put the number of displaced people in the region at around 450,000, but the UN believes more than 600,000 could be displaced within weeks.

On the weekend, the first of a series of joint UN convoys carried emergency relief to Mingora, on the outskirts of Swat Valley, where conflict between the army and militants has intensified in recent weeks. Further convoys this week will deliver supplies to an initial 3,000 families. From UNHCR's contribution, families will receive blankets, plastic sheets, plastic floor mats, jerry cans, buckets, kitchen sets and soap.

UNHCR is encouraged by the safe arrival and return of the first UN convoy of supplies to this dangerous region of Pakistan where curfews and general insecurity hamper relief efforts. But much more needs to be done.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), more than 100 families per day are seeking shelter in Jalozai camp near Peshawar, as pressure mounts on those who had already fled their homes and the communities that host them. Since fighting began in Bajaur agency, FATA, last August, most people had moved into urban areas, renting accommodation or staying with extended family. Now, however, their resources are exhausted.

UNHCR is expanding the capacity of established camps like Jalozai. But we have also stepped up assistance to those living outside of camps, where nearly 80 percent of internally displaced people (IDPs) are registered. UNHCR has already assisted more than 6,000 families with sleeping mats, blankets, jerry cans, buckets, kitchen sets, and soap in Mardan, Nowshera, Swabi, Lower Dir, Upper Dir and Kohat.

In addition, UNHCR has been helping the Government of Pakistan to register displaced people. To date, more than 64,500 people have been registered inside 12 camps, while 245,000 people living outside of camps have been registered. The registration process in NWFP is ongoing, and plans are underway to begin registration of displaced people residing in the major cities of Karachi, Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Lahore.

As part of a broad UN appeal to donors, UNHCR is seeking a further US $16.8 million to step up assistance to Pakistan's uprooted people. The overall UN appeal, launched last week, is seeking an additional US$98 million.