UN stands ready to assist Pakistanis cut off by heavy snowfalls, avalanches

19 February 2010

United Nations humanitarian agencies stand ready to help local authorities in Pakistan’s Upper Swat region where some 100,000 people need food, clothing, blankets and other non-food items after heavy snowfalls and avalanches blocked several roads and left some areas cut off from major towns.

So far the Pakistani Army has provided food supplies by helicopter and is clearing the roads, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.

Last week, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan Martin Mogwanja called on the international community not to forget the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable civilians displaced by fighting in the tribal areas in the northwest, urging donors to contribute to a $537 million appeal to meet immediate relief needs.

This week, UN agencies continued their aid for internally displaced persons (IDPs), with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) distributing hygiene kits to some 23,850 families – or about 135,000 people – from Orakzai who have sought refuge in Kohat and Hangu.

So far, 2,900 kits have been distributed to as many families in Kohat. In Hangu, OCHA and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) facilitated the distribution of non-food items donated by a national non-governmental organization (NGO) at Mohammad Khawaja Camp, including quilts, clothing for children and women and kitchen sets for around 216 families.

The number of IDP families from South Waziristan remains unchanged at 38,524 – or about 280,000 people, most of them living in their winter accommodations or with host families nearby.

In Jalozai IDP camp, UNICEF has set up temporary learning spaces for 10 primary schools and started middle and secondary education in some parts of the camp, while the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has started distributing fruit and forest plants to over 3,700 households in Buner, Lower Dir and Swat. They will also be trained in various planting techniques, such as budding and grafting.

UN-HABITAT, the UN Human Settlements Programme mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities to provide adequate shelter for all, continued its cash-for-work projects in Sultanwas village in Buner, removing the rubble of 68 houses. It has also conducted four training sessions on brick masonry and carpentry for 90 people in the same area.

In Mardan, Swabi and Charsadda, UN-HABITAT completed over 320 projects of community infrastructure repairs, such as street paving, drains, water channels, community guest houses, sheds and latrines.


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Humanitarian crisis for Pakistan’s displaced far from over – UN official

The top United Nations humanitarian official in Pakistan has called on the international community not to forget the vulnerable civilians displaced in the country’s northwest, urging donors to contribute to a $537 million appeal launched to meet immediate relief needs.