Fighting in NW Pakistan Forces Thousands to Flee

Posted April 11th, 2012 at 3:50 pm (UTC-5)
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International aid agencies say Pakistan's counter-insurgency operations in the Khyber tribal district in the country's northwest are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and that the number of internally displaced persons is growing by the day.

The head of the U.N. refugee agency's operation in northwestern Pakistan, Ahmed Warsame, says that more than 200,000 people have fled the fighting since January. He said that about 10 percent of the refugees have been placed at the Jalozai refugee camp outside Peshawar, while the rest have gone to stay with their families.

Pakistani officials estimate that the flow of internally displaced people will continue for at least six more months. The international aid agencies warn they will not be able to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need unless international community provides additional financial resources.

A spokesman for Save the Children, Faris Qaism, says the conflict is severely affecting children. He said many are exhibiting behavioral changes because they have witnessed violence in their areas.

Islamabad's fight against home-grown Taliban extremists has triggered a wave of suicide bombings and other terrorist acts across Pakistan. Authorities say such attacks, as well as a turf war between extremist groups in Khyber, are being blamed for the exodus of thousands of families.