Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Pakistan: Civilians continue to pay the price of conflict," ReliefWeb, September 9, 2008.

...from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

As clashes escalate between the Pakistani military and armed opposition along the Afghan border, civilians bear the brunt. Pascal Cuttat, head of the ICRC delegation in Islamabad, talks about how the organization is helping them.

How concerned are you about the humanitarian situation in Bajaur Agency on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan?

The recent escalation in the fighting forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes in Bajaur Agency with little more than the clothes on their backs. From 31 August the government suspended military operations in the border region for the Ramadan season. Some sections of the armed opposition did the same. This prompted tens of thousands of displaced people to return to their villages in Bajaur.

However the humanitarian situation is still extremely volatile, and there is no guarantee that the current lull in hostilities will last. We therefore remain very concerned about internally displaced people, the majority of whom are women and children. Around 50,000 are staying with host families or in improvised camps in locations such as schools. To give you an idea of just how desperate the situation is, some 14,000 people crossed over into Afghanistan because they felt that they would be safer there.

The displaced people most urgently need clean water and sanitation facilities, as well as shelter, food and access to health care.

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