Pakistan: ICRC deploys in Dir and Buner and assists thousands of displaced
02-07-2009 Operational Update
Following an initial round of assessments, the ICRC is working closely with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society and other partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to bring aid to tens of thousands of people affected by fighting in North-West Frontier Province.
" As we start to move about in the areas hardest hit by the fighting, we realize the magnitude of the population's needs. Many residents cannot work or purchase food for their families. Their resources are extremely limited and they often have to care for displaced relatives or friends, " said Katharina Ritz, the ICRC's deputy head of operations for South Asia. " We are now reaching thousands of people in Swat, Dir and Buner but will need unimpeded access to these areas to be able to do more. "
The ICRC is now carrying out its humanitarian work in Dir, where the situation remains fraught with difficulty for thousands of people. Recent fighting has forced many residents of Doghdara and Maidan to flee their homes at the same time that people displaced by the fighting in Swat have been entering the district. Curfews prevent people from working and from purchasing basic commodities. Shop owners cannot restock and most farmers are unable to tend their fields. Commodity prices and unemployment are on the rise and the ability of the resident population to support displaced people (IDPs) is increasingly limited. Many among the displaced have lost contact with family members.
Some displaced people move in with relatives or rent houses. Many move into camps, where the situation is often extremely difficult owing to overcrowding and poor access to water, sanitation and medical care. Women and children in the camps spe nd most of their time inside tents in unbearably high summer temperatures.
The ICRC has stepped up its assistance to those living in camps and with host families in both Upper and Lower Dir. In the past week, it has brought them food and other items and sought to improve their access to clean water and sanitation.
The curfews still in place in much of Swat have prevented the valley's population from harvesting their fields. As in Dir, most stores in the district are still closed since movement restrictions have prevented restocking. When and where goods are available, they are expensive. The ICRC's access to and movement in Swat have been problematic and remain limited. The organization intends to continue to operate in Swat, but its ability to deliver aid there and in other areas beset by fighting hinges on safe and unimpeded access. It has reminded all parties of their responsibility to facilitate humanitarian activities.
Displaced people have been returning to Buner district at a sharply increasing rate over the past week. Most head for Daggar, the district's main city, and its outskirts. Their return has been spurred on by electricity being restored in and around Daggar.
Malakand and Swabi
The ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent are working with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to provide additional humanitarian support for some 350,000 people staying with host families outside areas directly affected by fighting in Malakand and Swabi Divisions, where many displaced people have settled temporarily. Among those receiving the aid are some 140,000 displaced people currently staying with host families and 70,000 now living in camps.
In coming weeks and months, the ICRC will also provide assistance for over 140,000 returnees and residents in areas directly affected by the fighting.
Facts and Figures
- The ICRC hospital in Peshawar for the weapon-wounded is operating at full capacity, currently caring for over one-hundred patients.
- In Lower Dir, the ICRC and the PRCS provided food and non-food items to over 7,000 IDP and host families and supplied Timergara's District Headquarters Hospital with a war-wounded kit to treat 50 patients. The organization improved access to clean water and sanitation in Ghandigar IDP camp, in Technical College camp and in Government Girl College. Over 250 satellite phone calls were also facilitated.
- In Swat, the organization provided food to over 1,000 families in Mingora. It also facilitated over 380 satellite phone calls for families who had lost touch with relatives and supported Mingora's Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital with fuel and medicine.
- In the last week, the ICRC in Buner, assisted over 1,200 families with food and non-food items. It also supplied Buner's Headquarters Hospital with fuel and a war-wounded kit to treat 50 patients.
- In Malakand District, the ICRC and PRCS supplied over 2,600 families with food, firewood, tarpaulin, tents and soap. Basic Health Unites were provided to the PRCS to treat patients at Rangmela and Palai camps. The ICRC also supplied water tanks for the camps.
- In Swabi, the ICRC and the PRCS supplied over 3,350 families with food and non-food items. The ICRC supported the PRCS's Basic Health Unit at Shah Mansoor camp by providing medicine. The Shah Mansoor camp BHU averaged 500 consultations daily. The organization also improved access to clean water and sanitation in the camp by installing additional tents, latrines, showers, kitchens and garbage collection points.
- In Mardan District, the ICRC provided a Basic Health Unit that now treats IDPs living in three of the district's schools. In addition, it supplied over 300 IDP families living in the district with food and non-food items.
- In Charsadda and Bannu districts, the ICRC and PRCS distributed food and facilitated over 220 phone calls and distributed food to 62 families living outside of camps.
- In Nowshera District, the ICRC and the PRCS provided tarpaulins to over 400 IDP families currently living in Benazir camp. Over 1,100 phone calls were facilitated and one unaccompanied child was reunited with his parents.
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
For more information about the International Federation o f Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) operation in Pakistan, please see: Pakistan: the worsening plight of displaced children