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Monday, June 1, 2009

Pakistan Emergency !!!

Nearly one million men, women, and children forced to flee violence.

A young displaced girl carries a mat back to her tent. UNHCR/ M. Pearson

As the number of men, women and children uprooted this month by the current conflict in north-west Pakistan neared 1 million, the UN Refugee Agency stated that it is "absolutely essential" that the international community mount an immediate and massive humanitarian response.

"Many are fleeing with nothing. It will not be possible to meet their needs without massive and rapid help from the international community. And if that help doesn't come, it will be a humanitarian disaster,” said the High Commissioner Antonio Guterres.

The UN Refugee Agency has been quick to responds the crisis, but the unfolding emergency requires a quick response by donors. Tents, sleeping mats, and blankets are desperately needed to shelter those innocents whose homes and possessions have been destroyed by war.

The almost 1 million displaced people so far registered this month by authorities and UNHCR are in addition to another 550,000 uprooted people who have fled fighting since last August. According to the latest figures, 987,140 people have been registered from the current influx, including 907,298 outside camps and 79,842 in camps.

According to Guterres "Most of [the displaced] are currently depending on relatives and friends for help and are not in camps, thus creating huge social and economic pressures. But if these people - both the displaced and the many Pakistanis trying to help them - do not receive rapid international support, I fear there is a very real possibility of further destabilization."

The High Commissioner said Pakistan's long history of generosity to some 5 million Afghan refugees deserved recognition and it was "high time the international community" responded to help Pakistanis now facing displacement themselves.

The UN Refugee Agency has been fast to respond to the humanitarian crisis in north-west Pakistan. UNHCR has been providing shelter and distributing aid as part of a united UN response.

On Tuesday May 12, UNHCR airlifted 120 tons of additional relief supplies from its regional stockpile in Dubai. The chartered aircraft carried 10,000 mosquito nets, 14,000 plastic sheets for emergency shelters, 1,500 plastic rolls to build walls and privacy screens in camps, and two portable warehouses.

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