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Pakistan: returning home to rebuild lives before onset of winter

21-10-2010 News Release

Geneva/Islamabad/Peshawar (ICRC) – As floodwaters recede in the north of the country, the first thought of those displaced is to return to their homes and resume their lives.

Whether because of fighting or floods, millions of Pakistanis have made this return journey in the last two years. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society continue to support them in their efforts to overcome adversity and rebuild their lives.

"It takes real courage to return to devastated homes and fields and start the rebuilding process. As winter approaches in the north-west of Pakistan, this is also a race against the clock," said Peter Schamberger, who coordinates the ICRC's economic-security activities in Pakistan. "In order to restore livelihoods in the shortest possible time, returnees are anxious to plant the annual cereal crop before the mid-November planting deadline, and prepare for winter. As seed, fertilizer and farm tools were lost during the flooding, this task had become almost impossible in many parts of the country."

The ICRC has supported the return of those displaced by the fighting for several years. Today, the organization handed over farm machinery to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ministry of agriculture for distribution to eight model farm services in the districts of Buner, Swat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Nowshera, Swabi, Dera Ismail Khan and Malakand Agency, which have all been severely affected by both armed violence and flooding.

"Each model farm service will receive tractors, large trailers, seed cleaners, threshers and moisture testers for use at nominal rent by farmers in these areas," said Mr Schamberger. "Some 16,000 farmers are expected to benefit from this initiative. We also intend to provide seed and fertilizer for returning farmers over the coming week."

In addition to this farm machinery and seed, the ICRC has handed over artificial-insemination tools and equipment to the provincial livestock department in Peshawar. The department uses the equipment at eight artificial insemination centres, co-located with the model farm centres. The artificial-insemination tools help improve the quality of farm animal breeding in the region, where hundreds of thousands of animals were lost during fighting or in the floods.

Together with the Pakistan Red Crescent, the ICRC has provided food, hygiene items, emergency shelter, drinking water and medical facilities for victims of armed violence in the country's north-west since 2008. Since 2009, the ICRC has provided returnees in areas of Malakand Division with seed and fertilizer.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the ICRC continues to provide support for the treatment of weapon-wounded patients and the physical rehabilitation of amputees, and to donate medical items to public hospitals in fighting-affected areas.

In partnership with the Pakistan Red Crescent, the ICRC has provided one-month food rations and hygiene items for 575,000 flood victims and shelter items for a further 345,000 victims, mainly west of the Indus river. The ICRC has also helped the members of more than 800 families to stay in touch by providing telephone links and tracing services. In addition, it continues to provide support for Pakistan Red Crescent health-care units and diarrhoea treatment units that have so far conducted more than 60,000 consultations.

For further information, please contact:
Michael O'Brien, ICRC Islamabad, tel: +92 300 850 8138
Sitara Jabeen, ICRC Peshawar, tel: +92 300 850 56 93
Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02