UN says 190,000 people displaced from strife-torn Bajaur Agency

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Islamabad, Oct 15 : The United Nations has said that around 190,000 people have been displaced so far from the strife-torn Bajaur Agency since fighting began there in mid-August.

People are fleeing their homes here because of shelling from US-led NATO troops and Pakistani military operations targeting the Taliban militants and those providing shelter to them. A large number of innocent people, including women and children, have been killed in such strikes.

According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman, most of the displaced are staying in camps in the North West Frontier Province. "This number includes over 168,000 Pakistanis now sheltering in the North West Frontier Province and another 20,000 Pakistanis and Afghans who fled into eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province," the Daily Times quoted spokesman Ron Redmond as saying.

He said that due to 'security reasons', the Bajaur Agency did not have access to most areas on both sides of the border where most of the displaced were staying with families.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army had said in September that the fighting in Bajaur was some of the heaviest since Pakistan joined the US-led 'war on terror' in 2001. It also claimed to have killed 1000 militants including Al Qaeda's operational commander in the region Egyptian Abu Saeed Al-Masri.

In another related development, Japan has donated 4.06 million dollars to assist the Pakistanis displaced by the recent conflict and floods in the northern parts of the country, as a humanitarian gesture to support the country hosting the world's largest refugee population. The donation will go towards UNHCR operations supporting relief supplies, including shelter, transportation, registration and operation costs, for internally displaced persons (IDP), said a statement issued on Tuesday.

According to the report, UNHCR Pakistan needs 17.2 million dollars to carry out its activities for an estimated 310,000 affected people. UNHCR response is part of a 54-million-dollar 'Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan' launched by the UN to assist the government in providing immediate humanitarian relief to the IDPs in various sectors.

"The recent tragedies in Pakistan have moved the people and the government in Japan. This donation, coming from the people of Japan, reflects our commitment to help thousands left homeless due to the recent events. These people are in dire need of immediate humanitarian assistance," said Chihiro Atsumi, ambassador of Japan to Pakistan.

ANI

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