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Pakistan displacement update

Briefing notes

Pakistan displacement update

2 June 2009

Thousands of people took advantage of the lifting of a curfew over the weekend to flee from their villages and towns in the Swat Valley to reach safer areas in Mardan, Swabi and Charsadda districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). This was the first opportunity in some time for people trapped in those areas to escape to safer zones. Thousands of people have fled their homes in the past days, mainly from the Mingora and Char Bagh areas in Swat district, although it is difficult to confirm figures. To respond to this new influx, UNHCR, its partners and NWFP authorities have established two new camps in Charsadda and Peshawar districts. Sugar Mill camp, in Charsadda, received 400 families, or 2,400 individuals, yesterday (Monday) and more people are expected to arrive today (Tuesday).

Some families who arrived in Sugar Mill yesterday told our teams that they had been living in their basement for a month. They said they were about to run out of food when the curfew was finally lifted last Saturday and Sunday and they were told to evacuate the area. One family said they ate spinach and bread for 25 days before they were finally able to leave their home for safety. The displaced cited shortages of food and medicine as major problems for those who remain stranded in the conflict zone.

Many of the families said they were transported out of Swat Valley by government arranged trucks which took them to Yar Hussain camp in Swabi or Sugar Mill in Charsadda. Others said they had walked some of the way before taking buses to reach safer areas, then renting private accommodation or finding a place to stay with host families or in schools.

In the new Sugar Mill camp in Charsadda, UNHCR has provided relief kits for 850 families, including mats, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, jerry cans, and blankets. Tents have been provided by the governmental District Coordination Officer (DCO), who is working with a local NGO (IDRAK) to provide equipment and labor to clear and level the site. UNICEF is taking care of installing latrines with its partner Humanitarian Resources Development Society (HRDS). Basic health facilities should be in place in the next few days. UNHCR is working to install electricity. As in other camps, we're also providing materials to erect sun screens and privacy walls and bricks for fire pits.

On registration, the fast-track registration data is currently being cross-checked and verified by the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) and we expect to be able to confirm updated registration figures later today.