The International Committee of the Red Cross says it plans to deliver
large quantities of food and non-food items to thousands of Pakistanis
who have fled fighting in Bajaur tribal region near the Pakistan-Afghan
border. The Red Cross says fighting between Pakistani government
forces and armed opposition groups has displaced more than 200,000
people. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from ICRC headquarters in Geneva.
International Committee of the Red Cross reports about 80 percent of
those who have fled from Bajaur Agency are women and children. It says
most of the men have remained behind to try to keep their livelihoods
and to secure their property.
The mass movement of people began
a few weeks ago as fighting intensified between Pakistani troops and
armed opposition groups in this al-Qaida and Taliban stronghold.
Red Cross began its humanitarian operation for displaced people about a
week ago. Spokeswoman Carla Haddad says the agency plans to assist
about 60,000 of them.
She says many of these people are living
with family and friends along the Pakistan-Afghan border. She says
most of the host families are very poor. Their generosity is putting
an additional burden on their limited resources.
thousands of people are living in so-called camps. "They are not camps
as such," said Haddad. "They are public buildings surrounded by tents
and so it is enlarged and in some cases, you have 5,000 people
in a school."
"So there are problems linked to absence of
latrines, absence of anything necessary. I mean basic necessities are
lacking. And, we know that the government has made some assistance,
but it is limited in the sense that if the people stay in these areas,
they will need to have more support and assistance," she added.
displaced people are staying in lower Dir and Mardan, two tribal areas
in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. About 25,000 people are
living in 23 camps in lower Dir.
Haddad says the ICRC and
Pakistani Red Crescent are helping people in six of these camps. She
says they are the largest and most in need of urgent assistance.
situation in Marden is different. She says the displaced there are
largely living with host families. She says they are scattered in the
areas and an assessment team is in the process of tracking their
Haddad says the situation in the tribal areas is
very volatile and sporadic fighting is making it difficult for aid
workers to move around and see what is happening on the ground.