27 November 2009
Michael Von Bergen/ICRCThe Red Cross is helping kick-start local agriculture and boost small business in Pakistan’s Malakand Division, where families affected by the recent crisis are facing economic hardship.The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society have distributed wheat seed and fertiliser to about 300,000 people.
By the harvest next May, most families are expected to be self-reliant again. Until then, the Red Cross will continue to provide those most in need with food.
The ICRC will extend this programme to Swat in the near future. The economy in this part of the North-West Frontier Province was shattered by months of heavy fighting earlier this year, which destroyed infrastructure and forced over two million residents to flee their homes.
People lost their crops and livestock, ran down their savings, and often contracted debts. Most families have now returned to their homes, but efforts to rebuild their lives are seriously hampered by lack of resources.
Assistance for weapon-wounded
Unexploded devices pose a serious threat to lives and limbs of people returning home in areas where fighting has recently taken place. The ICRC is raising awareness of these dangers and providing information on how to reduce the risk of injury.
Victims of explosive devices are treated at the ICRC surgical hospital in Peshawar where 33 patients were admitted over the last two weeks. British Red Cross nurse Tim Stephens recently spent three months working in the hospital.
He said: “The hospital opened in February and provides free surgical care for all people injured as a result of the violence in the region, regardless of their origin or alliance.
“I found people’s strength of spirit amazing. Their lives are in flux and the future of their society uncertain. Obviously the patients I encountered had been injured, often resulting in significant disability. Many had lost relatives in the same attack that injured them. The fact that they were so positive about their future and so grateful for the care they received was really humbling.”
The Pakistan Red Crescent is also addressing numerous health problems faced by the hundreds of thousands of people still displaced by ongoing fighting in South Waziristan.
Mobile health units consisting of doctors and nurses and a well-equipped ambulance can treat most basic medical problems in the field. If necessary, more complicated cases are brought to the hospital in Dera Ismail Khan. Together, the mobile health units can treat up to 200 patients a day.
Find out more about the Pakistan Crisis
Watch a video about ten-year-old Alina who was injured by an explosion