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UN: Humanitarian Crisis in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province Not Over

UN: Humanitarian Crisis in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province Not Over

UN: Humanitarian Crisis in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province Not Over

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The U.N. Humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan says the crisis for hundreds of thousands of displaced people who have returned to homes they fled in the Swat Valley and other tribal areas is not over. He says their needs as well as those of the population who remained in the area during fighting between the Pakistani government and Taliban militants continue to be acute.

By June, nearly three million people had fled from the fighting in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The United Nations reports more than 1.6 million of the displaced have now returned to the homes they fled in the Swat Valley and other areas the government considers safe.

But, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan, Martin Mogwanja, says the crisis is far from over. He says military operations are continuing longer than expected.

He says the sudden upsurges of fighting between Pakistani government troops and militant Taliban in different areas of return is prompting tens of thousands of people to once again flee their homes. He says this is causing further military operations and further displacement. "So, this kind of cyclical problem of displacement is extremely unsettling for the population and limits the possibility for the population to reinvest in economic activities such as agriculture, commerce and so on and so forth," he said.

Mogwanja says U.N. officials have urged Pakistani authorities to make sure that areas are stable and military operations are at an end before people are encouraged to return.

He says a lot of work and a lot of money is needed to repair the damage from the conflict. He says more than 400 schools have been damaged or destroyed and must be rebuilt.

He says the more than 4,000 schools that were occupied by internally displaced people must be vacated and repaired. He adds livelihoods must be restored, agriculture must be revived, infrastructure repaired and unexploded ordnance removed.

He says particular care must be given to the thousands of children who were left behind, many of whom have become traumatized by the events. "They witnessed horrific fighting, bombing, explosions, killing of all kinds. And, these children are traumatized. They need psycho-social assessment and counseling and support in a community setting where the skills to undertake this are very, very limited," he said.

Mogwanja says the Taliban stopped polio immunizations from taking place. So, unfortunately, a number of children in the Swat Valley now are paralyzed from this disease.

He says the militants blew up hundreds of schools, mainly girls schools. He adds many girls were threatened by the Taliban to block them from going to school. He says this too is creating psychological distress.