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The United Nations refugee agency says it is stepping up assistance to
thousands of Pakistanis displaced by military operations against the
Taliban in South Waziristan. The U.N. says it will soon distribute
tents to families staying with host communities in districts of the
North West Frontier Province.
Fighting between the Pakistan army and
Taliban militants in South Waziristan hit a peak in mid-October when
the Pakistan army launched an air and ground offensive to dislodge the
Islamic militants from their sanctuary.
Hundreds of thousands of
civilians have fled the conflict zone. Some are in camps, but most are
staying with family and friends.
UNHCR Spokesman, Andrej
Mahecic, says the agency will distribute some 35,000 tents, worth $6
million, to the displaced pending the final number of confirmed
"The aid will allow the displaced people to
pitch tents in the grounds of households which are hosting them, and
alleviate overcrowding," he said. "Tents are on their way from our
local stockpiles to Dera Ismail Khan, and distribution will begin in
the coming days."
"Since September, UNHCR has been distributing relief
items such as kitchen sets, jerry cans, quilts, sleeping mats to
displaced people from South Waziristan. Some 24,000 families, that is
about 175,000 people, have been assisted so far," he added.
UNHCR's relief effort has been interrupted on several occasions because
of problems with security. But, he adds, distribution is continuing
through local partners.
He says UNHCR is supporting the
registration of displaced people from South Waziristan. He says this
process is being carried out by the provincial Social Welfare
Department, with help from local private aid agencies.
350,000 people, comprising almost 48,000 families, have now been
registered in Dera Israil Khan and Tank, though only 175,000 people or
24,000 families have yet been verified by the National Database and
Registration Authority," said Mahecic.
"The verification process is
ongoing but, at this stage, early indications suggest that about 17
percent of families could be ineligible due to multiple registrations.
A further 10 percent are not verified due to problems with their
national ID cards, and another 2 percent are deemed not from the areas
affected by the military operations," he continued.
Mahecic says it is
important that people, who are not verified, because they do not have
their ID cards or do not come from an affected area, have the
opportunity to seek redress. He says so-called grievance desks are
being set up at the registration centers to make sure that genuinely
displaced people do not fall through the cracks.