Pakistan: ICRC and Red Crescent respond to needs in North-West Frontier Province as returns continue
04-09-2009 Operational Update
Tens of thousands of civilians continue to return to their homes in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan after months of displacement. Many are encountering difficult conditions.
Another 10,000 people have returned to Dir following a relative improvement in the security situation there. They had earlier fled intense fighting in the Maidan area. According to local authorities, about 90% of displaced persons in and around Maidan have now returned. However, they face hardship as a result of losing their homes and crops, and because they have limited access to food, water, electricity and health services. Security remains a major concern as military operations and indiscriminate attacks continue. In the last two weeks, three schools and a first-aid post were attacked and destroyed. Maidan is also contaminated with unexploded ordnance, with reports that a landmine explosion injured two children on 25 August.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided much-needed drugs and supplies to the district hospital and basic health units that the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has set up in Wari and Gandigar camps, Upper Dir. Together with the PRCS, the ICRC delivered food to almost 3,000 residents of Khungi Shah IDP camp for the first time. The camp – recently built by Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement teams – has latrines, showers and a clean water supply. Community kitchens currently under construction will allow residents to become self-reliant by cooking their own food. The ICRC also distributed food to 32,000 displaced people currently living in nine other camps in the district and to 21,000 internally displaced persons staying with host families.
Security in the district capital Mingora has deteriorated sharply over the last two weeks, with a number of suicide attacks and heavy fighting. The ICRC is trying to regain access to the town. Meanwhile, the organization delivered drugs to the PRCS basic health unit in Kanju. Working jointly with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, it also delivered food and soap to 2,700 residents of Barikot on 24 August. A further 4,000 people who live west of the Swat River received aid on 1 September.
Despite the curfew imposed on 13 August in Chagarzai Tehsil, more families arrived in Karapa camp, where the population has reached 2,400. The area stabilized last week and all 900 people who had been staying in Sawari camp returned to their homes, as did those staying with host families. The ICRC and the PRCS finished distributing food and other relief items to over 14,000 displaced people in the district, despite several interruptions due to heavy rains. Following the return of people who had fled to the southern part of Buner district, an ICRC team entered Chagarzai on 26 August for the first time to assess humanitarian needs there. The ICRC was the first international humanitarian organization to enter this troubled area.
The PRCS and the ICRC provided food rations to almost 60,000 displaced people living in two IDP camps and to other vulnerable Malakand residents over the last two weeks. This latest distribution is part of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement's ongoing support to those affected by fighting in and near Malakand.
Many people who had sought refuge in Peshawar have left camps, shelters and relatives to move back to their homes in Swat. The ICRC donated medicine and supplies to the Frontier Constabulary in Hayatabad, to help them treat patients from Swat, Malakand and Hangu.
Restoring family links
The ICRC and the PRCS helped IDPs currently living in camps in Malakand Agency, Nowshera, Charsadda and Lower Dir stay in touch with their families through 259 free telephone calls.
Weapon risk education
The massive returns of recent weeks have led to numerous unexploded ordnance incidents throughout the NWFP. ICRC-trained teams of PRCS volunteers sensitized over 2,000 people from Benazir, Jalozai, Rangmala, Jalala and Kacha Garhi camps to the risks posed by such devices and taught them how to recognize these weapons.
ICRC surgical hospital for patients with weapon injuries
Over the past two weeks, 40 casualties were admitted to the ICRC hospital in Peshawar, bringing to 92 the number of patients currently receiving treatment at the hospital. Surgical teams there have performed 166 operations over two weeks.See also: Response to NWFP humanitarian crisis
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 9302
or visit the website of the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: www.ifrc.org