The humanitarian response needs to be rapid

As fighting between the Pakistan army and Taliban militants intensifies in the Swat Valley and other volatile areas, the urgent humanitarian needs of tens of thousands of civilians forced to flee their homes.

Over half a million people have been living in exile from their homes for over six months already. Urgent humanitarian appeals are still critically under-funded for core needs like food, health, education, and water and sanitation.

Most of those uprooted by the recent fighting in the (NWFP) come from the Lower Dir and Buner areas near the Swat Valley, but that an increasing number of people are arriving from Swat as well.

People from Lower Dir and Buner are currently concentrating in the nearby districts of Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera and Charsadda, where the government is establishing new camps,” Displaced families are also beginning to appear in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other big cities as numbers grow.”
The vast majorities of displaced families don’t reach the camps – where they can at least get basic services and a degree of security but rely on the hospitality of families and friends. A huge percentage of the displaced are hosted by friends and family outside the camps. This hospitality is fragile and places great stress on households already under economic strain.

The government and international community predicting displacement on the scale of between 500,000 and one million additional people over the coming months, the Pakistan government’s relief commission and district officers in new camps struggling to cope with the latest arrivals from Lower Dir, Buner, Swat & ensure that displaced families get proper registration and access to services and support .

The humanitarian response needs to be rapid; Most of the newly displaced families from places like Buner arrive with nothing. Sometimes they travel by foot for hours to reach safety and assistance. Many families from Swat are being displaced for the second time. The current emergency is potentially the biggest displacement crisis Pakistan has faced.

In many ways it is even more challenging than the earthquake in 2005, as the situation is so violent, unpredictable and changes so rapidly, The latest fighting comes after the collapse of a February 2009 peace agreement aimed at ending Taliban violence in Swat. Since then, Taliban militants have advanced into districts beyond Swat. The government launched new army campaigns to halt the offensive.


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