Sunday, May 24, 2009

Diocese tries to help Swat refugees

THE UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned that the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan has become “one of the most dramatic of recent times”. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been fleeing from fighting in the Swat valley, northern Pakistan (News, 15 May).

Ron Redmond, a UNHCR spokes man, said on Monday: “It’s like trying to catch something that’s moving ahead of us, because the number of people on the move every day is so big and the response is never enough.”

He estimated that it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds to keep up with the influx. A financial appeal for the region was expected soon. It was reported that large numbers of civilians remain in the disputed areas, some of whom cannot afford to leave, and are at risk as the fighting intensified.

Dr David Gosling, Principal of Edwardes College, University of Peshawar, said on Monday that students from the college, both Christian and Muslim, were working with the refugees.

Last week, the Bishop of Peshawar, the Rt Revd Mano Rumalshah, said that 200 people walked the 100 miles to the diocesan relief camp set up at the Christian Vocational Centre in Mardan. Among them were three pregnant women. The diocesan weekly paper reported that two of the women had given birth and were being cared for by the diocesan medical team.

“Most [of the refugees] are arriv ing on foot with little or no money at all. In view of the prevailing security situation in their home towns, af fected families will require rehab ilitation through employment opportunities and education.”

The diocesan relief camp needed bedding, medicines, food, clothes, and prayers, it said.

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