IRC Calls for Humanitarian Corridor in Pakistan’s Combat Zone; Says Access and Funding is Critical to Saving Lives
As fighting between the Pakistani army and Taliban militants intensifies in the Swat Valley, hundreds of thousands of people are still trapped in the combat zone. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is backing urgent calls for a humanitarian corridor so people can flee to safety and vital aid can be delivered to trapped civilian populations.
“While up to two million people have made it out to relative safety, the IRC remains highly concerned about the many civilians still trapped in the conflict area,” said Mike Young, the IRC’s Pakistan country representative. “Lives are undoubtedly in danger and many of the sick, elderly and vulnerable may not be able to flee at all. People need immediate access to vital life-saving services or assistance in evacuating the conflict zone and reaching safety.”
Meanwhile, the IRC is responding to the urgent humanitarian needs of hundreds of thousands of civilians who have escaped the combat zone and now live in the relative safety of family and friends, in camps and other temporary sites. Urgent humanitarian appeals, however, are still critically under-funded for the most basic of services.
“The current emergency is on the scale of the mass displacement we saw during the disastrous wars in Rwanda and Bosnia, and much more funding is required to cope with the influx,” Young says. “We call on all partners in the international donor community, individuals and institutions to help meet the urgent needs for food, health, shelter, education, water and sanitation. Severely stretched resources, and the added tension brought on by soaring summer temperatures in the overpopulated camps, also create a potential for conflict among the displaced that could further hamper relief efforts.”
Ninety percent of displaced families don’t even reach the camps, where they can at least get basic services and a degree of security. Many rely on the over-stretched hospitality of family and friends, already struggling with the economic crisis. Others are being forced to squat in schools, abandoned buildings and other makeshift shelters.
Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee is a global leader in relief, rehabilitation, post-conflict development, advocacy and resettlement services for refugees and others uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression. The IRC has been working in Pakistan since 1980.
New York: Michael Cowan, +1 347 302 3348, +1 212 551 0957, michael.cowan@theIRC.org
London: Beverley Cohen, +44 7775 196939, +44 692 2727, beverley.cohen@IRCuk.org
Bangkok: Peter Biro, +66 81 783 6525, +1 646 201 3697, peter.biro@theIRC.org