Plight of people to worsen in Pak, Afghanistan: Red Cross

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Peshawar, Mar. 31 (ANI): The International Committee of the Red Cross has said that the plight of people in Pakistan and Afghanistan will continue to worsen in the coming months.

The armed conflict in Afghanistan was intensifying and affecting more areas of the country, while fighting and a volatile security situation is causing severe hardship to civilians in the northwest of Pakistan.

"In both Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is expected that the political and military dynamics of the conflict will further endanger the lives and livelihood of civilians in the short term," The Dawn quotes ICRC's head of South Asian operations Jacques de Maio, as saying.

"In recent months, the armed conflict in the north of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province has forced many people to flee their homes. We have also seen a steady influx of weapon-wounded patients as a result of the armed conflict and volatile security conditions in tribal areas," de Maio added.

The ICRC has stepped up its operations in order to help civilians and the injured, and has more than doubled its current budget for Pakistan, from 24.1 million Swiss francs to 52.6 million.

In Dir, on the Pakistani side of the border, the ICRC is currently delivering aid to over 40,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who do not yet feel safe returning to their home communities.

In Peshawar, the ICRC has set up a 60-bed tented hospital to perform emergency surgery on a growing number of injured civilians and fighters.

Since the Bajaur crisis in August 2008, the number of weapon-wounded patients has increased significantly, most of them with shrapnel, bullet and blast injuries.

The ICRC is coordinating its operations on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

"Their safety and welfare will depend on enhanced respect for international humanitarian law, including for provisions protecting detainees, and on a stronger neutral and independent humanitarian response," de Maio concluded. (ANI)

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