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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs