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Pakistan: thousands need food, water and medical care

09-06-2009 Operational Update

The security situation in Dir and Swat districts, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), remains volatile. A curfew is still in place in Swat, where streets are almost empty and most shops remain closed. While the harvest season is almost over, very few people are tending their fields. The population still does not have access to electricity, water and telecommunications.

   
  ©ICRC/M. von Bergen/v-p-pk-e-00754    
 
Mingora, Swat. Food being delivered to Saidu Teaching Hospital by the ICRC.    
     

   
  ©ICRC/M. von Bergen/v-p-pk-e-00761    
 
Mingora, Swat. One of hundreds of people enabled by the ICRC to restore contact with their families.    
     

   
  ©ICRC/M. von Bergen/v-p-pk-e-00758    
 
Mingora, Swat. Patients at Saidu Teaching Hospital, which has been supported by the ICRC.    
      

Most residents fled the fighting of the past weeks but tens of thousands still live in Swat today.

" Every time we entered a village, hundreds of people asked for help " , says Michael von Bergen, a delegate who was in a convoy delivering assistance in Swat last weekend. " Those who did not leave are now desperate. They need food, clean water and working medical facilities " . The ICRC, the only international humanitarian organization active in Swat and Lower Dir, has started to assist residents there.

The organization is stepping up its support for people affected by fighting in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). It is working closely with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and other partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Following an appeal to donors on 4 June, the ICRC budget for its Pakistan operation stands at over 90 million Swiss francs, making the operation the organization's third largest worldwide.

 
The ICRC in Swat:
 
  • The ICRC has been back in Swat since 3 June. The organization had worked in Swat prior this latest crisis;

  • ICRC health teams have supported Saidu Teaching Hospital in Mingora with a generator and fuel to restore its electricity supply. They also delivered food, medical supplies, medicine for 10,000 patients for three months and dressing materials. The ICRC evacuated six patients from Saidu Teaching Hospital in Mingora to the ICRC's Peshawar hospital on 6 June;

  • Family links were re-established for 100 Mingora residents who had lost contact with relatives who fled south. The organization provided satellite phones to these residents since local phone lines are down;

  • A food security assessment was undertaken in Swat as soon it was possible to reach the area. The organization decided to respond rapidly and on a wide scale since it is the only international organization currently working in Swat.

 
ICRC main activities in relation to the crisis:
 

    

  • Re-establishing family links between internally displaced persons (IDPs) and their relatives (over 1000 in the last month);

  • Co-running Shah Mansoor IDP camp in Swabi, which is hosting 20,000 IDPs. Work is ongoing to improve living conditions. The ICRC and the PRCS are currently

 preparing the camps for the onset of the monsoon;

  • Supporting two PRCS camps in Malakand Agency (10,000 IDPS) and four in Lower Dir (13,000 IDPs);

  • The ICRC's hospital in Peshawar is running at full capacity, providing care for 87

 patients, 50 of whom are from Swat. 179 operations have been performed in the past week, including on patients evacuated from areas affected by fighting. The hospital is supported by the Finnish Red Cross.

 
ICRC/PRCS activities outside of Swat:
 

    

  • Distribution of food in Shah Mansoor's Swabi camp on 9 June;

  • Distribution of food and non-food items, including kitchen item s, to over 13,000 IDPs hosted in PRCS camps in Lower Dir on 10 June;

  • Distribution of food and non-food items to over 2,000 IDPs currently living with host families in Buner on 11 June.

The ICRC in Pakistan currently employs over 800 national staff and 100 expatriates.

ICRC photographs taken in Swat and in Swabi IDP camp are available. Please contact Fania Khan at the ICRC photo library at:    For more information about the ICRC's Pakistan appeal of 4 June, please see: ICRC and Pakistan Red Crescent substantially expanding operations  

For further information, please contact:
  Sébastien Brack, ICRC Islamabad, tel: +92 300 850 81 38
  Sitara Jabeen, ICRC Islamabad, tel: +92 300 850 56 93
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 251 93 02