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Pakistan: ICRC and Pakistan Red Crescent supporting health-care services for victims of Waziristan violence

23-11-2009 Operational Update

The ICRC is supporting mobile health units of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society operating in Dera Ismail Khan and Ministry of Health facilities in Waziristan, an area where the ICRC itself does not at present have direct access.

  Waziristan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas  

The Pakistan Red Crescent units are addressing the numerous health problems faced by the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting in South Waziristan.

Each unit consists of doctors and nurses and a well-equipped ambulance and can treat most basic medical problems in the field. More complicated cases are brought to the hospital in Dera Ismail Khan if necessary. Together, the mobile health units can treat up to 200 patients a day.

" The mobile health units are like temporary clinics set up for a day at a time in communities all over the district for patients who cannot reach the health-care facilities in the district capital, " explained Dr Bart Janssens, who heads the ICRC's health programme in Pakistan. The ICRC is providing ambulances, training, medicines and salaries in support of the Pakistan Red Crescent.

The ICRC is also providing eight Ministry of Health facilities in Waziristan, and 23 in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as a whole, with medicines and medical equipment needed to treat sick and injured people in areas where fighting is taking place. The ICRC is looking into the possibility of providing similar support to Ministry of Health facilities in Dera Ismail Khan district, too.

Over the last two weeks, the ICRC has also given food and other essentials to nearly 17,500 people displaced from Bajaur Agency by the ongoing fighting there (IDPs). In addition, together with the Pakistan Red Crescent, it has set up a camp in Sadbar Kalay, Lower Dir, to accommodate them. In Quetta, the ICRC distributed food to about 1,500 people who fled their homes in Waziristan.

  Economic security in the Malakand Division  

As people displaced from Malakand Division have returned to their homes, the ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent have gradually shifted their focus to large-scale agricultural assistance in a bid to facilitate economic recovery. Since the launch of the assistance programme two weeks ago, the ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent have distributed seed and fertilizer to nearly 22,500 families in Buner and to some 20,000 families in Lower Dir. Altogether, about 300,000 people have already benefited from the scheme, which is still in place.

The ICRC will monitor the crop until it is harvested in May. In the meantime, the ICRC will continue to distribute food, soap and clothing every month to needy people in Malakand Division. Over 100,000 people received ICRC assistance of this kind over last two weeks alone.

  Raising awareness about explosive remnants of war  

As displaced people return to their homes in areas where fighting has recently taken place, explosive remnants of war pose a serious threat to their lives and limbs. ICRC personnel have therefore held nearly 300 sessions attended by some 5,700 people in various camps in the North-West Frontier Province to raise awareness of the dangers posed by unexploded weapons and to provide information on how to reduce the risk of injury.

Victims of explosive devices are given treatment at the ICRC surgical hospital in Peshawar and artificial limbs at the ICRC-supported Pakistan Institute of Prosthetic and Orthotic Sciences.

  Medical assistance  

The ICRC surgical hospital for weapon-wounded patients in Peshawar admitted 33 patients over the last two weeks. The ICRC continued to supply medicines to the Benazir camp for displaced people in Risalpur and to the Kanju basic health unit in Swat.

  Restoring and maintaining family links  

Together with the Pakistan Red Crescent, the ICRC organized 67 national and six international telephone calls enabling displaced people living in camps in Nowshera and Charsadda to contact their families.

  For further information, please contact:
  Sébastien Brack, ICRC Islamabad, tel: +92 300 850 81 38
  Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: + 79 217 32 26