accessibility & help

Red Cross races to move thousands of people ahead of Pakistan monsoon season

7 July 2009
For further information please contact

Penny Sims 

Contact number tel: 0044 (0)207 877 7044 / email: / out of hours 07659 145 095

• Torrential rains due to bring more misery to the millions who have fled the Swat valley

• Red Cross prepares to move 14,000 people to higher ground

The monsoon season will present serious health and logistical problems to people who have fled the fighting in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, says the British Red Cross.

As well as increasing the risk of disease in overcrowded host communities, the threat of flooding means the Red Cross Movement are preparing to move thousands of people to higher ground. At Shah Mansoor camp in Swabi, home to 20,000 people who have fled the Swat valley region, staff are looking to move around 70% of the camp to new locations.

Robert Przedpelski, camp manager at Swabi camp,
“The monsoon is the top priority for me at the moment. We don’t know exactly when the rains will come, but we are aiming to have everything in place within the next two weeks. We are looking at moving a large proportion of Swabi camp, roughly about 70% of the camp. That’s a huge operation. We’ve obtained some neighbouring land, which we are in the process of preparing at the moment. The ground has to be levelled, then we need to build latrines and wells, it’s a lot of work, but we’re working flat out and I have a very good water and sanitation team on the job. In the meantime we must continue with the everyday work of the camp – surveying IDPs [internally displaced people], looking at their needs, helping to reunify family members who have been split up – all this work goes on”.

The UN estimates around 2.5 million people, the equivalent to the entire population of the Greater Manchester area, have been forced to flee the Swat and Dir regions. Local communities, who are thought to be hosting around 80% the displaced population, could be seriously affected by the coming monsoon season.

Gregory Rose, British Red Cross health advisor for Eurasia, said:
“Overcrowding in the affected communities is putting a huge strain on shared water and sanitation facilities. Add to that the threat of contamination from flooding and the resulting run-off into local water sources, and there will almost certainly be increases in childhood diarrhoea which, with no guarantees of health services, means children will die”.

The British Red Cross has launched an urgent appeal to help civilians who have fled their homes and those still trapped by the fighting in Pakistan ahead of this month’s monsoon season.

The ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and the Pakistani Red Crescent have been providing help including emergency shelter, medical aid, food and other provisions to both those displaced and those trapped by the fighting. The ICRC are currently the only aid agency able to operate in the Swat Valley and Dir regions.

"As we start to move about in the areas hardest hit by the fighting, we realise the magnitude of the population's needs. Many residents cannot work or purchase food for their families. Their resources are extremely limited and they often have to care for displaced relatives or friends," said Katharina Ritz, deputy head of operations for South Asia for International Committee of the Red Cross. "We are now reaching thousands of people in Swat, Dir and Buner but will need unimpeded access to these areas to be able to do more."

Despite generous support received so far, the Red Cross Movement still needs an extra £37 million to expand their work

The money raised through the appeal will help the Red Cross Movement provide food, basic household items and critical medical services, not only to those in camps but also to the civilian population trapped in areas no other agencies are reaching.

To donate to the British Red Cross Pakistan Crisis Appeal, go to:
0845 053 53 53
Please send cheques made payable to British Red Cross to:
Pakistan Crisis Appeal, British Red Cross , 44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL

Notes to editors

This is how your donation could help:
£5 could provide 3 jerry cans for carrying and storing clean water
£25 could provide 6 blankets for people left without shelter
£50 can provide a food ration for a family of 5 for 1 month

For interviews, photos and further info, please contact Penny Sims on 020 7877 7044 or or via pager no. 07659 145 095

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.