No effort must be spared to aid displaced Pakistanis says UN relief

7 July 2009The top United Nations relief official kicked off a four-day visit to Pakistan today, urging that no effort be spared to tackle the humanitarian crisis involving over 2 million people uprooted by fighting between Government forces and militants in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). “While it is not the largest crisis in the world, needs in Pakistan are the most immediate of any crisis in the world. The upcoming monsoon season makes meeting those needs an even more urgent priority,” said Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes.“This will not be easy, and I fear it will be by no means perfect. But we must pull out all the stops to do as much as possible, as quickly as possible,” he added.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that preparations continue in the displacement camps for the upcoming monsoon season, which is expected to start in mid-July.The agency’s spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva that, depending on the intensity of the monsoon, some families may have to be relocated to other areas less prone to flooding. Some 260,000 of the more than 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are in 21 camps, according to UNHCR. The vast majority of the displaced are outside the camps, living with host families and in school buildings. During the course of his visit, the UN humanitarian chief plans to visit IDP camps, host families and spontaneous settlements where some of the displaced are taking shelter. “Although we are making headway in delivering aid to people in formal camps, we need to find ways to reach more displaced in need – especially those staying in spontaneous settlements and with host families,” he said.Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, began his visit today by meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi and General Nadeem, head of the Special Support Group, as well as the humanitarian country team in Pakistan.In a related development, UNHCR and the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday signed a partnership agreement to support vital humanitarian operations in Pakistan. The agreement will procure relief items like tents and blankets, to meet the needs of IDPs, mainly women and children, as well as facilitate the voluntary return of displaced people in the country’s north-west.

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