Date published: 13 May 2009
Intense fighting between militant groups and the Pakistani Forces in and around the Swat Valley has driven more families from their homes, adding to the 550,000 people already displaced over three years of violence.
World Vision is responding to a call by Pakistani authorities to join a relief effort to assist an estimated 200,000 new Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Aid organisations indicate that these numbers could easily rise, if hostilities are not contained.
World Vision will work with partners to help people displaced from Buner and Swat who are seeking refuge in Mardan, Swabi, and Charsada, about 130km from the Pakistani capital Islamabad. A World Vision team is visiting the area to assess the needs and plan the relief response.
The organisation is particularly concerned for the health and protection of displaced children and women who make up half of the population in the Swat valley area.
“With the loss of many innocent lives and tens of thousands of children and parents on the run, we need to act as a matter of urgency, securing strong local partners and funding to quickly provide relief,” said Graham Strong, Country Director for World Vision in Pakistan.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) reportedly gained control over the Swat Valley’s largest town Mingora just a day after the group announced formally its withdrawal from the controversial Swat Valley peace deal in response to ongoing military offensives in and around the valley.
Pakistani authorities and aid organisations including World Vision are meeting regularly to plan and coordinate the further relief response. Providing shelter, health care, clean water and sanitation, food and education are the top priorities. It is estimated that 30% of the IDPs will remain in camps, while the majority will find refuge with family and friends.