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Children displaced by conflict in Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan, 8 May 2009- UNICEF Pakistan expresses deep concern about the situation for thousands of people who have recently fled armed conflict between militants and government forces in north-western Pakistan.

In the past two weeks, about 82,000 people have fled conflict areas, and it is estimated by government and other humanitarian sources that up to 800,000 people could be displaced in the current military operations in the Swat Valley. This number would add to the existing 550,000 displaced already in camps and host communities.

The majority of those worst affected are children, who have witnessed violence, experienced displacement, and faced interruptions to education and health services. The displaced people have minimal resources and require safe water, clothing, food, shelter and health care.

As part of the United Nations coordinated response, UNICEF and its partners are working closely with the Federal and Provincial governments to provide assistance to people staying with relatives and to support three new camps which are already accommodating the newly displaced.

To prevent the spread of disease among children, UNICEF Pakistan is supporting the provision of safe water, sanitation facilities and hygiene kits to Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the newly established camps. More than 10,000 children under five years of age have been vaccinated at transit points. It is also identifying and providing assistance to orphans and unaccompanied children and families headed by women and distributing clothing for children. UNICEF is also supporting a primary school in one new camp with an enrolment of 200 children and is working to expand schools to the other new camps.

UNICEF Pakistan is also concerned about the humanitarian impact on civilians, especially children, still living in areas affected by conflict. UNICEF strongly urges all parties to take immediate measures to ensure that children are protected from the effects of armed conflict, and that aid workers and supplies for IDPs and civilians in conflict areas have safe passage.

Before conflict escalated in Buner, Lower Dir and Swat Districts in the North-West Frontier Province, over 555,000 IDPs had been registered, with most living in rented accommodation or host communities, and about 93,000 in 11 IDP camps supported by UNICEF and other UN agencies, the government and other partners.

To date UNICEF Pakistan has supported routine vaccination services for more than 21,000 children, nutritional supplementation for malnourished children, and water and sanitation services for about 72,000 people in IDP camps and 42,000 in host communities. UNICEF has also developed child protection networks and enrolled displaced children in camp schools and second-shift schooling in host communities.

As the UN agency coordinating the overall international response (Cluster Lead) in the Water and Sanitation (WASH), Nutrition and Education sectors UNICEF in Pakistan needs urgently 10 million US dollars to provide immediate assistance to the newly displaced by the fighting in Swat and to continue ongoing operations for the old caseload of IDPs.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:

Luc Chauvin, UNICEF Pakistan, Tel: +92 300 500 2588
Antonia Paradela, UNICEF Pakistan, Tel: +92 3005002595, Email aparadela@unicef.org
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York Tel: +1 212 326 7426, Email pmccormick@unicef.org





14 May 2009:
UNICEF correspondent Eduardo Cure reports on the situation of thousands of displaced people in Jalala camp, north-west Pakistan.
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14 May 2009: UNICEF’s Antonia Paradela discusses the burgeoning displacement crisis in Pakistan.
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