Fighting between government forces and Taliban in northern Pakistan has created a rapidly escalating humanitarian crisis, say the heads of a Pakistan relief agency visiting New Zealand.
Shama Mall, a deputy director of Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan, says the situation at home for the 200,000 people forced to flee in the last two days is worsening. “It’s very worrying at present. These people are under the open sky in a very insecure and unstable environment,” says Ms Mall, who is from Pakistan.
“People have been forced to leave at short notice and their immediate needs are not being met. Many have never had to leave their communities before and are afraid to do so.” CWS P/A is appealing for funds to buy more family-sized tents and monthly food packages of lentils, oil, water, tea, sugar, rice and flour, as well as provide health and hygiene facilities. CWS P/A teams are on the ground in the North West Frontier Province and will start distribution in the next 24 hours. An estimated 300,000 more people are about to move.
Mall heads home to Pakistan tomorrow (Sunday May10) following three days in New Zealand meeting politicians, staff of the Council for International Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NZAid, and community groups. She and three others in the programme were guests of New Zealand-based overseas aid agency Christian World Service.
Fighting between the Pakistan Army and Taliban in the northwest of Pakistan has intensified as the government forces try to expel the militants. Until the fighting intensified last week, 500,000 civilians had already been forced from their homes since October 2008. Aid agencies say the movement of people from the Swat Valley is threatening to become one of the world’s biggest displacement crises.
CWSP/A director Marvin Parvez and Christian World Service appeal to UN and governments to enhance their aid to people in this region. “This situation is a very serious threat to our country,” Mr Parvez says.
“We want a quick end to this crisis so people can return to their homes. We call on all parties to the conflict to avoid civilian deaths and give safe passage for those civilians who are trapped.”
Donations for the displaced and fleeing people can be made online or 0800 74 73 72.
9 May 2009