As reported in an April 8 situation report, the recent increase in fighting in the Bagh Maidan area of Tirah Valley in northern Pakistan, close to the border with Afghanistan, has resulted in large numbers of displaced communities. The displacement began late last month.
What initially started as a few hundred families fleeing quickly grew to 6,000 families; now some 120,000 people (about 20,000 families) have fled the region. Many are avoiding camps for the displaced because of a March 20 bombing at the Jalozai Camp.
They are arriving in host communities fearing their lives. In fleeing their homes in Tirah Valley, families crossing tough, mountainous terrain that took up to two days. The families faced rain, lack of all basic necessities and an added risk of attacks by militants. Many people died along the way; some women have reportedly been raped.
Nearly 8 out of 10 of the displaced (nearly 95,000 persons) are women and children. Aside from other needs, this large number of women and children places extreme pressure on the health system because unvaccinated children face the threat of fatal or debilitating illnesses. Pregnant women have special needs, and chronically ill patients also require regular access to treatments in order to avoid death.
Those hosting the displaced also face challenges, given their own limited resources.
Authorities have begun a response providing some limited assistance such as tents, food and some health care to those displaced. Humanitarian organizations such as CWS are undertaking assessments to determine the greatest unmet needs and how the agencies might best assist given that the displaced will be wholly dependent on humanitarian assistance.
How to Help
Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Donations to our emergency response efforts around the globe may also be made online.
CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.