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UN warns of massive exodus

February 01, 2009

RAWALPINDI, Jan 31: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has projected that the situation in Swat valley and the tribal areas would aggravate during the year, causing a fresh displacement of up to 625,000 people.

“An analysis indicates that there is a significant likelihood of large-scale clashes and intensified military offensives throughout 2009, and possibly into 2010,” the study said.

According to the OCHA’s “humanitarian response plan”, the displacement would exacerbate an “already complex humanitarian situation”.

Population movements have been fluid and more constant in comparison with August; the conflict continues with no sign of abating.

The situation in Swat district was particularly alarming, with areas under militant control receiving very little or no assistance. Large portions of Swat district remain under curfew or inaccessible to aid agencies.

The security situation creates constraints for the adequate delivery of assistance to the entire affected population. The situation in Swat district and Fata remains particularly challenging and off-limits for most humanitarian agencies, as military operations continue with parts of the area under de facto control of non-state actors, the report says.

The OCHA has announced that an amount of $127 million will be required to assist newly displaced persons. With $29 million in funding available from original appeal for the Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan, this leaves an unmet requirement of $98 million for 2009, it explained in a statement.

In Swat district, fighting is on the rise with 50 per cent of its 1.8 million inhabitants affected by the conflict and a large number of individuals displaced.

Until now, 232,720 displaced people have been registered in nine districts of the NWFP.