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UNICEF appeals for funding to urgently assist displaced children and women in northwest Pakistan

2009-05-25

NEW YORK/ISLAMABAD, 26 May 2009 - UNICEF has appealed for an additional $41.4 million to provide urgent assistance to people displaced by fighting in northwest Pakistan. Over half of the displaced are children. UNICEF Pakistan has now almost exhausted its contingency stocks of supplies and funding.

Humanitarian efforts have been strained by the very rapid increase in the number of people fleeing fighting that has taken place in the Malakand division of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) since early May 2009.

The massive movement of people has increased to some 2.5 million since early May 2009. They have poured into camps and host communities, arriving with few possessions and in urgent need of safe water, clothing, food, shelter, health-care, and protection. These displaced have added to half a million people who had been previously displaced by conflict in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the second part of 2008.

More displacement of populations is expected in the days ahead as military operations expand to new areas.

Difficulties of access combined with shortages of essential humanitarian supplies and funding are hindering efforts to provide children and women who are internally displaced with life-saving support.

Many of the newly displaced are not yet receiving assistance, and only around 10 per cent are currently in camps serviced by national or international humanitarian agencies. In the coming months, UNICEF plans to expand its humanitarian assistance to displaced children and women, both in camps and in host communities.

At present, UNICEF, with its government, UN, and humanitarian partners, is providing children and their families with safe water and sanitation, nutrition, health support, education and child protection wherever possible.

Estimates suggest that tens of thousand of people are trapped in the conflict areas, where access is severely limited. They are trying to survive with inadequate supplies of food, water, and emergency medical aid.

UNICEF’s request for $41.4 million is part of the inter-agency revised Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (PHRP), which is seeking $543.2 million to cover the work of major humanitarian actors. The Government of Pakistan has welcomed the PHRP as complementing its own National Response Plan to this massive and expanding humanitarian crisis.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.