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Pakistan-Afghan Border Conflict Leaves Tens of Thousands in Dire Need


The International Committee of the Red Cross is launching an emergency operation to provide urgent assistance to tens of thousands of victims of armed conflict in Bajaur Agency on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Lisa Schlein reports from International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reports more than 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Bajaur Agency for relatively safer areas in the North West Frontier Province and other tribal agencies.

Armed conflict between Pakistani security forces and militants has intensified over the past two weeks. And, this has resulted in mass migration from the troubled Bajaur Agency.

Red Cross spokeswoman, Carla Haddad, says tens of thousands of people are in desperate straits. To respond to their needs, she says the ICRC, along with the Pakistani Red Crescent, is launching a relief operation to help more than 64,000 people. She says 14,000 are on the Afghan side and 50,000 in conflict areas of Pakistan.

"The displaced have moved from Bajaur Agency where the conflict flared up and Bajaur is in the northern part of federally-administered tribal areas in northwestern Pakistan," she said. "And, they moved to the cities around. So, the ICRC is concerned because there are large numbers of civilians, mainly women and children who were forced to flee and are in need of assistance. They are in need of basic necessities, such as food, clean water, shelter, and lack of access to medical care is an issue for sick people, especially for children."

The Red Cross says some people have found refuge with host families who also are poor. It says these families are depleting their resources by feeding more people and are having problems restocking their food supplies.

It says many homes are becoming overcrowded with displaced people. So, besides caring for those who have fled the fighting, the Red Cross says it also must assist those who are providing shelter to them.

The Red Cross is appealing to all those involved in the armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law. It says they must ensure the civilian population is respected and protected in all circumstances. It says they must allow emergency relief and medical supplies to reach people in need.

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