UN warns of crisis as thousands flee fighting in Swat valley
As Pakistani army reinforces its strike on Taliban militants, officials and aid workers engaged in shelter camps faced fresh influx of people fleeing from the conflict zone. Given the circumstances UN has said that the situation is fast becoming a major crisis.
“The international community needs to realise that this is becoming one of the major displacement crises in the world and it needs to be dealt with,” Killian Kleinschmidt, the deputy head of the UN refugee agency in Pakistan, said.
“We need money now for what is going to happen through the summer.”
After heavy ground and air assaults on the outskirts of Mingora, the main town of Swat valley, many people loaded their families into cars and trucks during a brief pause in the violence.
Thousands have already arrived in the town of Mardan, further south inside the north-west frontier province.
According to reports, the government is preparing for up to 500,000 internal refugees, the largest displacement crisis in Pakistan’s history.
One UN official in Mardan said that up to 60,000 displaced people have already registered at centres in the town. Probably, this figure is only a small part of the real total as most fleeing families are allegedly staying with relatives or friends rather than seeking official help.
Several thousand people are already based at camps around Mardan. Hundreds more are waiting to register for assistance with shelter and food.
Washington sees the fighting as a key test of Pakistan’s commitment to tackling an increasingly powerful Taliban insurgency.