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Pakistan: ICRC and Pakistan Red Crescent substantially expanding operations

04-06-2009 News Release 09/116

Geneva/Islamabad (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is stepping up its support for people affected by fighting in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The organization will work closely with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and other partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

" In view of the needs on the ground, notably those of more than two million displaced people, the ICRC is asking donors for an additional 40 million Swiss francs, " said Pascal Cuttat, head of the ICRC's delegation in Pakistan. " About half the money we are asking for will be used to support Pakistan Red Crescent activities helping the displaced. "

The humanitarian crisis under way in the NWFP has forced over two million people to flee their homes over the last few weeks. Up to 120,000 displaced people (IDPs) are living in camps, but most have found refuge in host families, rented accommodation and makeshift shelters all over Pakistan. The ICRC, the Pakistan Red Crescent and other Movement partners plan to help a total of 380,000 displaced people in the coming weeks and months.

The crisis has also had a severe impact on tens of thousands of civilians left behind in the areas worst affected by fighting. " At the moment, the ICRC is the only major humanitarian organization assisting civilians living in Swat, Dir and Buner, where fierce fighting has taken place, " said Mr Cuttat. " The ICRC is preparing to launch relief operations in and around Mingora, Swat's capital, where fighting has disrupted basic services and forced thousands to flee. It also plans to provide support for displaced people who decide to return home of their own free will. "

The Pakistan Red Crescent and the ICRC will focus on restoring contact between family members in camps for the displaced and on supporting local health-care facilities struggling to cope with the numbers of displaced persons arriving. The ICRC is also reinforcing the capacity of its surgical hospital in Peshawar and, given the influx of wounded people in the area, intends to set up a similar facility in Quetta.

The ICRC will closely coordinate its activities with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that work with the Pakistan Red Crescent to assist displaced people in areas not directly affected by the conflict.

Following today's appeal, the ICRC budget for its Pakistan operation will stand at over 90 million Swiss francs, making the operation the ICRC's third largest worldwide.

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