News / Asia

North Waziristan Fighting Triggers Humanitarian Crisis

People, who fled the military offensive against Pakistani militants in North Waziristan, line up to receive food supply from the army in Bannu, in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, June 25, 2014.
People, who fled the military offensive against Pakistani militants in North Waziristan, line up to receive food supply from the army in Bannu, in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, June 25, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
x

Pakistan's military claims to have killed more than 330 suspected terrorists in its ongoing counter-militancy air and artillery offensive in the North Waziristan district on the Afghan border. However, the army action that began nearly two weeks ago has forced nearly half-a-million people, mostly women and children, to flee to safety. The humanitarian crisis is likely to grow as Pakistani ground troops are readying to take part in the action.

​A military spokesman says the anti-militancy strikes in the Waziristan region are hitting “all groups of terrorists without any discrimination.” He told reporters Thursday that ground troops will not be involved in the action until all civilians are evacuated from the conflict zone. The spokesman added that special announcements are being made to encourage the population to leave the area as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, thousands of displaced people with their belongings piled high on buses, tractors and donkey carts continue to pour out of North Waziristan. Most are ending up in host communities or renting houses around the nearby town of Bannu. So far only a few hundred have taken shelter in government set-up relief camps.
 
Lola Castro, head of the World Food Program in Pakistan, says the agency is rapidly scaling up food distribution for the displaced people. She tells VOA her organization, with the help of local authorities and civil society groups, has already provided urgent food rations to more than 4,500 families to meet their needs for the next two weeks.
 
“We are talking about 455,000 new people which mostly are women and children in fact and it is important the humanitarian community continues being able to access the areas so that we can all do their job and not to disturb the livelihoods of the people and they can settle well,” she said.

The United States on Thursday announced it has contributed an additional $8 million to help Pakistan's government meet the food and nutritional needs of the internally displaced people from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.  
 
Maryam Bibi’s charity group Khwendo Kor, (which means "Sister's Home" in Pashto)  is among the first few organizations that began assisting official relief efforts in Bannu. Bibi says the displaced people, women and children in particular, are facing extremely tough conditions as they move out of Waziristan.  
 
“What I saw, for 40, 50 kilometers, barefooted women and children had come down and they showed me their feet, which were all wounded and swollen. Pregnant women also had to walk all that [distance]," she said. "So, it is really a very, very heartbreaking situation when you look at women and children, elderly and sick.”
 
Bibi says though authorities are ensuring food and cash are given to the displaced, meeting their long-term needs seems to be a daunting challenge.

“It is a massive humanitarian crisis and I think because the realization is not there, the preparedness is not there and also at the same time you know a strategy is not in place," she said. "So, I think the situation will exacerbate if on emergency basis, on urgent basis, action is not taken.”
 
The militant-stronghold North Waziristan tribal region is also considered one of the world’s last reservoirs of polio virus. Pakistani authorities, with the help of the World Health Organization, are taking advantage of the civilian exodus to immunize tens of thousands of children and adults against the crippling disease to try to prevent it from spreading throughout Pakistan.

Federal Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch, who is supervising the relief operations, says, “We have made sure that every individual coming out of that place is given the polio drops and we will follow it up wherever they are and they will be given the next dose.”

The militants have not allowed authorities to conduct polio vaccination campaigns in the tribal area, leading to outbreaks of the virus. Out of more than 80 cases in Pakistan this year, 53 were recorded in North Waziristan.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid