Urgent need to set up more camps for Pakistan’s displaced, says UN agency

20 May 2009

With thousands of people uprooted by violence in north-west Pakistan continuing to make their way to safety, the United Nations refugee agency said today it is crucial to set up more camps and ensure speedy access to assistance.

Almost 1.5 million people have escaped fighting between Government troops and militants in the Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in recent weeks, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

“Thousands of displaced people continue to arrive in camps and to approach registration centres,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva today.

He said that on average, some 100,000 people have been registered daily in the 89 registration points established in Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Peshawar, Kohat and Charsaddda districts of NWFP.

With reports of thousands of new arrivals in Abottabad, Manshera and Haripur districts, the agency is planning to help set up more registration centres to ensure the internally displaced persons (IDPs) can get the help they need as quickly as possible, he added.

Of the nearly 1.5 million people that have fled so far, some 131,000 people are staying in camps, with more than 1.3 million staying in private accommodation, with host families or friends, and some in schools.

The new influx is in addition to the over half a million people registered in NWFP who had fled other parts of the north-west, including the tribal areas, over several months since August 2008.

“Most of the 15 new camps established this month in response to the new influx are already full,” noted Mr. Redmond. “There is an urgent need to identify new sites and establish new camps.”

UNHCR is also helping the NWFP Ministry of Social Welfare to carry out a ‘fast track’ registration process to ensure people can get assistance. It is discussing with authorities a process to cross-check and verify data in a way that will identify duplicate registrations, inconsistencies and remove people from the earlier influx who may have returned home.

High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, who wrapped up a three-day visit to the area last weekend, has called on the international community for a massive influx of support to assist the surging numbers of uprooted people in the South Asian nation.


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