17 July 2009
REUTERS/Ali Imam/Courtesy www.alertnet.orgWith the economy severely disrupted and houses damaged or destroyed, there are massive challenges ahead for displaced people in Pakistan as they begin returning home.
More than two million people fled their homes during the recent fighting – making this the largest displacement of people worldwide for 15 years.
The security situation remains volatile in parts of the North-West Frontier Province and many families are likely to face hardship as they return. However, the Red Cross emphasises that return must be voluntary, based on people’s own assessment of the situation in their home areas, set against the conditions in the camps and in their host communities.
Ensuring safety and dignity
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continues to work towards ensuring the safety and dignity of all people affected by this situation.
Simon Brooks, who was deployed to Pakistan as part of the ICRC’s rapid deployment unit, said: “Everyone wants the displaced families to return to their homes as soon as conditions allow. But this means there needs to be security, basic public services and food. All measures must be taken to ensure the safety and dignity of those who choose to return.”
The ICRC, with the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, will continue helping displaced families whether they choose to return, or stay put. Simon continued: “Although the upcoming monsoon rains will not improve conditions in the camps, we are taking all possible measures to improve them should people choose to stay.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has distributed relief items such as buckets, jerry cans, kitchen sets and kerosene stoves to 1,000 families. These distributions are supported by British Red Cross funds.
The British Red Cross also deployed junior ward nurse Tim Stevens last week, who is working with the ICRC at their hospital in Peshawar. Tim said: “I’m happy to be working in Pakistan, this is why I went into nursing in the first place. People are suffering, and it’s good to know I can do something to help.”
Despite generous support received so far, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement still urgently needs an extra £12 million to carry on helping people in Pakistan who desperately need continued support.
Read more about the Pakistan Crisis Appeal