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Pakistan: ICRC activities in August 2008–March 2009

27-04-2009 Operational Update

Since the outbreak of the armed conflict in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in August 2008, the ICRC has been supporting the people affected in close cooperation with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS). It has mobilized substantial resources and expanded its operations, concentrating on assisting internally displaced people (IDPs) and the wounded.

Pakistan - pdf format    

  ©ICRC/O. Jenard/er-n-00020-29    
December 2008. Dir, North-West Frontier Province. The distribution of relief goods to IDPs is about to start.    

  ©ICRC/O. Jenard/er-n-00020-29    
  December 2008, an IDP camp in Dir, North-West Frontier Province.    

  A map of Lower Dir showing areas where IDPs are receiving ICRC assistance.    

  ©ICRC/A. Majeed/v-p-pk-e-00636    
  August 2008, Mardan, North-West Frontier Province. The ICRC distributes relief items to IDPs from Bajaur Agency.    

  A map of Swat showing areas where IDPs are receiving ICRC assistance.    

  ©ICRC/J. Tanner/v-p-pk-e-00714    
  Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province. Nine-year-old Nazir from Bajaur district being treated at an ICRC field surgical hospital.    

  ©ICRC/J. Tanner/v-p-pk-e-00729    
  Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province. Jan, a 45-year-old mine victim, receives treatment at an ICRC-supported orthopaedic centre.    
Assistance to IDPs 

According to official figures, over 200,000 people have fled from their homes, mainly in Bajaur, to Lower Dir Mardan, Charsadda, Nowshera and Peshawar since August 2008. Civilians in Swat fled within the district to Mingora and beyond – to Lower Dir, Malakand and Peshawar. Since October, fighting has intensified in Mohmand Agency, forcing people to flee, mainly to the plains around Peshawar.

Although figures are hard to verify, there were an estimated 400,000 IDPs in total by the end of March 2009. The authorities report that almost 200,000 have returned to Bajaur, thanks to cease-fires in Swat and Bajaur.

At the onset of the crisis, the ICRC provided food and material assistance to 400 IDP families in Nowshera, 2,161 in Mardan, 400 in Charsadda and 76 in Swabi.

Since the end of October 2008, the ICRC has focused on Lower Dir and Swat districts, and Bajaur Agency, where it has various teams carrying out economic security, health, and water and sanitation projects.

Between August 2008 and March 2009, the ICRC distributed food to over 27,800 IDPs, household items to over 11,900, firewood to over 14,450 and winter kits to around 2,500 IDPs in total.

 Lower Dir  

In August 2008–March 2009, the ICRC and the PRCS distributed more than 16,000 food rations, 3,000 packages of household items and nearly 2,500 winter kits to IDP families in six camps in: Degree College Timergarahh, Khungi, Samarbagh, Sadbar Kalay, Munda and Chakdara Government High School. IDPs staying with host families in Balambad, Khungi, Summerbagh, Sadbar Kalay, Munda, Timergarah and Adanzai received over 2,900 food rations and 1,000 packages containing household items. Food rations contained wheat flour, rice, split peas, ghee, sugar, tea and salt. Household items included soap, kitchen sets, buckets, basins/tubs, tarpaulins, blankets, cloth, jerrycans and hygiene kits, while winter kits consisted of mats, mattresses, quilts, pillows, tarpaulins, bucket and stoves.

The organization distributed some 14,500 50-kilo bundles of firewood to camps in Degree College, Timergarah, Kunghi, Sadbar Kalay, Samarbagh and Munda. Through the PRCS, the ICRC also distributed firewood to IDPs in Benazir camp in Nowshera.


Since September 2008, the ICRC has been present in Swat district, assisting IDPs fleeing to Mingora, the district capital, Chakdara and the surrounding areas. In February it delivered food rations and household items to 8,900 IDPs staying with host families in Chakdara.

Before December 2008, the ICRC and PRCS provided food and material assistance to 14,850 IDPs staying with host families in Mingora. The organization registered another 25,000 IDPs staying with host families in and around Mingora and began providing them with similar assistance.

The organization also distributed some 40 food rations and 370 kits containing essential household items to families living in camps in other parts of Swat.

Water and sanitation 

Since the outbreak of the conflict, the ICRC has been providing drinking water to the displaced in Low er Dir. It has built latrines, bathing facilities and washing areas in two IDP camps in Degree College and Khungi. It has installed boilers, constructed community kitchens and shelter and lighting systems in the camps, sheltering over 2,000 families.

Drinking water, latrines, bathing areas, washing facilities and lighting have also been provided in camps sheltering 57 families who fled from Swat.

For IDPs living in camps in Odigram, Shagai and Wadodia schools in Swat, and in Chakdara (Lower Dir) the ICRC has set up water delivery systems, lighting, bathing and washing areas and latrines. Some 2,000 IDPs have benefited from these initiatives since March.

Health care 

The ICRC supports the PRCS in providing medical consultations in Degree College and two camps in Lower Dir and Nowshera. The PRCS runs two basic health units that the ICRC set up in Khungi and Degree College, provided with medical supplies and monitors closely. The organization also assisted the medical services in coping with the influx of IDPs from and within Swat and supported the health ministry by:

  • supplying a basic health unit near Chakdara IDP camp in Lower Dir with drugs; conducting a measles vaccination campaign in Chakdara camp;

  • donating a basic health unit to treat 3,000 IDPs for a month;

  • donating drugs to three health units in and around Mingora to serve IDPs staying with host families.

In the Ziarat district of Baluchistan, the ICRC supported two PRCS mobile health team in providing emergency care for victims of the earthquakes that struck the region in October 2008. By November 2008, the organization was scaling down its involvement, in coordination with t he provincial health authorities. The mobile health team currently active has already treated some 4,000 cases in 2009.

District hospitals 

The ICRC supported hospitals in conflict-affected areas with materials to cope with the increased caseload of weapon-wounded patients. It supplied four kits, each for the treatment of 50 war-wounded patients, to hospitals in Timergarah, Lower Dir, Khurram and Kohat. The organization provided dressing modules and intravenous fluids to Hangu district hospital and drugs to Khar hospital, in Bajaur Agency, and continues to monitor needs closely.

The wounded 

Collaborating with three hospitals in Quetta city, the ICRC provides medical services to conflict victims from the entire region, particularly from Afghanistan. In 2008, some 1,600 patients benefited from the services. Since April 2008, the number of cases treated per month has shot up: 169 patients in January 2009, and 208 in February.

In Peshawar the organization has been running a programme for the treatment of conflict victims for the past four years. The programme, involving two clinics, has been boosted (through the deployment of an expatriate surgical team, among other things) to cater for the increase in patients since August 2008. The ICRC also trained health personnel from FATA to treat patients with weapon injuries.

  • 442 patients treated between August and December 2008

The organization has set up a surgical field hospital in Peshawar to treat the influx of conflict victims, coming in from NWFP, FATA and Afghanistan. Since February the hospital has performed over 160 operations and sees out-patients twice a week.

Physical rehabilitation programme 

The programme provides orthopaedic devices to disabled people to help them live more active and independent lives. Through it, the ICRC brings physical rehabilitation services within the reach of people who would otherwise have no access to them. The organization seeks to promote high-quality services and ensure the sustainability of physical rehabilitation centres. It supports the: Peshawar Pakistan Institute of Prosthetic and Orthotic Sciences; Quetta Christian Hospital Rehabilitation Centre and the Muzaffarabad Physical Rehabilitation Centre. The ICRC:

  • keeps all projects of the centres operational through a variety of technical and managerial support; guarantees the projects access to imported, high quality medical supplies; entirely supports services and meets patients’ transport and housing expenses;

  • provides the centres with professional staff and imported raw materials and components to ensure high quality services; and is supporting the training of three local technicians by providing them scholarships;

  • signs a five-year memorandum of understanding with each centre; introduces standard technology and strategies, such as cost calculation, cost-efficient manufacturing of devices, and greater acceptance of the devices through physical therapy, to foster the centres’ self-sufficiency.


 Pakistan-administered Kashmir  

The ICRC set up a physical rehabilitation programme for earthquake and mine victims. After receiving treatment, disabled patients also get help from the ICRC in starting income-generating activities. Since February 2008, 164 disabled people treated at Muzaffarabad Physical Rehabilitation Centre have set up small enterprises, most of which have proved successful. This post-therapy assistance is essential to restoring the status of patients who may have lost a livelihood along with their limbs.

Home care project for spinal cord injured patients 

The programme, incepted in 2007, seeks to reintegrate spinal cord injured patients into their families /communities and restore their dignity. Currently 300 patients in Peshawar and the surrounding districts receive home visits and rehabilitation services from the ICRC home care team. In January – February:

  • 1,420 people received services at all ICRC-supported centres, an increase of 216% from the same period in 2008; 20% of the patients were under 15;

  • 882 devices were manufactured, an increase of 128% from the same period in 2008; 6.32% of patients were war-wounded.


Re-establishing family links 

In September – October 2008 the ICRC and the PRCS provided over 100 IDP families staying in Shwikh Yasee camp or with host families in Mardan with free mobile phone services to help them locate relatives left behind in Bajaur and elsewhere. The services were later expanded to include IDP families in Lower Dir. In December 2008 the ICRC supported the setup of a permanent mobile phone service in various camps in Lower Dir and Nowshera to help IDPs contact family members left mainly in Bajaur. So far, over 2,480 phone calls have been made.

The two institutions registered nine unaccompanied children, located the parents of seven and are searching for the families of the remaining two. They are also searching for 10 people reported missing as a result of the conflict.


Throughout Pakistan, the ICRC helps families of detainees maintain links with their loved ones by collecting and distributing family news in the form of Red Cross messages (RCMs).

The ICRC also facilitates phone calls or video conferences between Pakistani nationals, interned in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Afghanistan and the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba, and their families. In January–March 2009, some 250 RCMs were collected and over 280 distributed, and 37 calls were made.

In 2009, the ICRC has visited detainees in Sindh and in NWFP, and completed a small-scale kitchen hygiene project in a Karachi prison.

Cooperation with the PRCS 

The ICRC helped train 90 Pakistan Red Crescent volunteers to improve their skills (including restoring family links) in addressing the needs of victims of conflict and natural disasters.

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