UN Appeals for Urgent Aid for Pakistanis Displaced by Army Offensive Against Taliban

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is appealing to the international community for more than $600 million for millions of  Pakistanis displaced by fighting between the army and the Taliban militants. He said the world must give assistance, not out of generosity, but also in self-interest. VOA reports new fighting in a region dominated by militants reportedly is forcing more people from their homes.

Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud is the target of a new offensive the army says it is planning in the tribal region of South Waziristan.
"The government has taken a principled decision to launch a military operation against Baitullah Mehsud and his network," General Athar Abbas, a Pakistani military spokesman said.

Local reports from South Waziristan say some residents have already fled their homes after reports of clashes in the region.

In all, more than two million people have fled fighting in the country, many of them displaced by the ongoing battle between the army and the Taliban in Swat valley.

Tuesday, at a news conference in Washington, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said the new offensive in Waziristan will further complicate the problem.

"We are still concerned with the future developments in Waziristan and the implications of the Waziristan operation in relation to a further displacement in an even more complex area to provide assistance," he said.

Guterres said the refugee problem in Pakistan has all the elements of an impending disaster that could have impact beyond the country's borders.

He said the government in Pakistan is fully aware that if the displaced people are not given timely relief, the public could turn its anger toward the government. 

"Everybody that I spoke to was very clear, saying a failure to deliver a proper humanitarian assistance to this population can turn into a disaster for the country," Guterres said. "With some implications that go far beyond the borders of the country."

He said the main challenge for Pakistan is the speed by which the number of displaced people is going up every day.

And he added that Pakistan will need more help when Swat valley residents begin to return home.

Overall, the UN reports that the number of people forcibly uprooted in the world stood at 42 million in 2008, and the number is already on the rise in 2009.  

Pointing to refugees from countries like Somalia, the UN High Commissioner said some 80 percent of the people uprooted in the world are in developing nations.  And he said that amid the global economic downturn, wealthy nations are growing increasingly reluctant to grant asylum to the displaced.

This forum has been closed.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs