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Tens of thousands displaced from Khyber Agency - official

People continue to pour into cities from the conflict-affected areas of northwest
(Tariq Saeed/IRIN)

Between 56,000 and 100,000 people have fled the Khyber Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas since 1 September, the provincial government of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has said.



The new wave of displacements came as people reportedly fled a fierce army offensive in the area - close to the border with Afghanistan. The operation was launched a few days after a suicide bombing killed 22 border guards near the Torkham border crossing in Khyber Agency.



“Over 100,000 people have arrived in Peshawar since the military mounted an offensive,” NWFP information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told the media. “We have asked the federal government to provide us assistance to cope with the situation and we intend to set up a camp for them,” he said.



The most recent report on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Pakistan by the Logistics Cluster, an inter-agency aid coordination mechanism involving key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners, issued on 11 September, said “hundreds of families” were fleeing the Khyber Agency and 3,000 families had registered at camps in Peshawar, the NWFP capital.



Most people arriving from the Khyber Agency have chosen to move in with relatives. “I came here with my family two days ago. I am staying with my brother-in-law, but I am also trying to find out what arrangements the government is making for us,” said Jamil Khan, 30, a carpenter.



Another of those who has been forced to leave home, Muhammad Amjad, 25, also staying with relatives, told IRIN: “There are shells landing everywhere in my village. First I went to Landi Kotal [the main town in Khyber] but it was not safe there either, so I brought my parents and younger brothers to Peshawar.”



The displacement from the Khyber Agency is likely to add to concerns about the capacity of international agencies and the Pakistan government to help them.



UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan Martin Mogwanja told a press briefing in Islamabad last week that “only 3 percent of the US$280 million” required for the early recovery plan for IDPs had so far been collected. He warned that this lack of adequate funding could signal “disaster” for returning IDPs and called for more help for them.



The army has been battling militants in northwestern Pakistan for several months, leading to the displacement of some two million people.



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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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