Pakistan seeks aid for displaced

Prime minister asks donors for funds to ease humanitarian crisis in the northwest.

    About two million people have been displaced by fighting between the Taliban and the army [AFP]

    Hina Rabbani Khar, a government official, said representatives of around 40 countries and donor agencies had attended the talks which she called "successful".

    She said foreign donors had pledged $224m to help the displaced. The total includes $110million pledged on Tuesday by the United States.

    Pakistan has allocated $25m to the North West Frontier Province government for relief efforts, but critics warn that it is only a fraction of the money needed for reconstruction and law enforcement.

    The United Nations said fighting between the army and Taliban had forced about 1.5 million people to flee their homes since May 2, in addition to 550,000 people already displaced by previous violence.

    'Obligation to help'

    Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from Swabi district near the capital, Islamabad, said many had moved in with "friends, family and complete strangers".

    In depth


     Video: Pakistan's displaced struggle to find shelter
     Pakistan diary: Imran Khan
     Riz Khan: Obama's 'AfPak' strategy
     Riz Khan: The battle for the soul of Pakistan
     Interview: Asif Ali Zardari
     Q&A: The struggle for Swat
     Your views: Crisis in Swat
     The fight for northwest Pakistan
    Talking to the Taliban
    Pakistan's war

    He said Pakistanis felt an obligation to help those who have fled, and that their willingness to help was also a sign of public support for the army.

    "Those in the area who are lucky enough to have homes help those who are fleeing out of humanitarian compassion, but also as part of a bolstering of popular support, as part of a duty for all Pakistanis who support their government in the struggle to retain a sense of national sovereignty.

    "The efforts of the army continue to be supported. If those who are suffering away from their homes turn against the war, it is very damaging to Pakistan."

    Dominique Frankefort, an emergency co-ordinator with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said two million people would need food until at least September.

    "There are very few non-governmental organisations and there is very little government assistance," he told the news agency AFP.

    "We are catching up, if you have 200,000 additional IDPs [internally displaced persons] coming in per day you cannot feed them immediately."

    US aid

    A US aircraft carrying air-conditioned tents and 120,000 pre-packed meals arrived on Wednesday, the US embassy said.

    The Pakistani military is fighting the Taliban in Buner, the Swat valley and Malakand, and says it will expand its offensive to Waziristan to the south.

    A military statement on Wednesday said the army had captured the town of Sultanwas, a Taliban stronghold in Buner district, and killed 80 Taliban fighters.

    Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said: "The military has been claiming that it has taken back many towns in Buner.

    "[The town of] Daggar they say is now under control of military forces. That has prompted some people to go back. But the vast number of people who fled Buner are still holding back, [fearing] there could be another round of escalation."

    The army said it had killed more than 1,057 Taliban in the near four-week-long military offensive, and that more than 60 soldiers had been killed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Venezuela in default: What next?

    Venezuela in default: What next?

    As the oil-rich country fails to pay its debt, we examine what happens next and what it means for its people.

    The Muslims of South Korea

    The Muslims of South Korea

    The number of Muslims in South Korea is estimated to be around 100,000, including foreigners.

    What is Mohammed bin Salman's next move?

    What is Mohammed bin Salman's next move?

    There are reports Saudi Arabia is demanding money from the senior officials it recently arrested.