ISLAMABAD, February 7, 2009 – The United Nations, as part of the broader humanitarian response, has begun providing assistance to as many as 2000 families displaced because of the on-going military operation in Swat.
The assistance includes food supplies, shelter materials, clothing, kitchen utensils and water and sanitation facilities.
In this connection, 12 trucks loaded with food and non-food assistance that left Peshawar on Saturday (today) morning safely reached Mingora, on the outskirts of Swat Valley.
Thousands of families have been migrating from Swat where the military is engaged in an operation against militants. With fighting having intensified in recent weeks, it is estimated that 50 percent of the total 1.8 million people have been severely affected.
Fikret Akcura, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, while emphasizing the need for immediate aid, said: “United Nations and the humanitarian community are engaged to address the immediate problem and we have to provide life-saving support to the population dispersed within the conflict zone as well as those who manage to move beyond.”
He pointed out that since the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were expected to remain for extended periods in camps and other accommodation in safety zones, the international community must look beyond immediate relief.
“We have to cover such needs as education to children, literacy classes and skill development to adult population so that they return as empowered citizens to their home, once the conflict ends,” Akcura said.
The assistance to the migrating people is being provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, UNHCR and WHO.
Shortly after the first convoy carrying supplies arrived in Mingora, the distributions were done with people being handed over food, shelter material, kitchen utensils and clothing for children.
WFP food basket includes wheat flour, pulses, vegetable oil and salt – ration sufficient for one month for each family. Following the successful initial distribution of 50 tons of food to 500 families, a second round consisting of 150 tons for 1500 families is due to begin soon.
UNHCR has sent shelter and other relief items for 500 families to Mingora. Each family will receive six blankets, two pieces each of plastic sheets, plastic floor mats, jerry cans, one bucket, a kitchen set (including pots, pans and utensils), as well as 12 bars of soap.
UNICEF has dispatched bathing/washing soaps, lanterns, hygiene kits, jerry cans, buckets and tiffin carriers to serve the women and children among the displaced population,.
WHO has provided medical supplies to the hospital in Mingora based on an urgent request made by the authorities to cater to the needs of injured and sick.
Contact for more information:
Fawad Hussain, National Humanitarian Affairs Officer, RC Office: Cell: 0301-8542495
Amjad Jamal, Public Information Officer, WFP. Cell: 0300 8500989
Ariane Rummery, Public Information Officer, UNHCR. Cell: 0300 5001133
Abdul Sami Malik, Public Information Officer, UNICEF. Cell: 0300 8556654
– ENDS –