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UN scales up aid to thousands fleeing Pakistan's latest conflict zone

The United Nations refugee agency said today it is scaling up its help to people fleeing recent fighting in north-western Pakistan.

Some 84,000 people from eight villages in Kurram agency have fled the fighting between the Pakistan army and insurgents in the border area with Afghanistan, Adrian Edwards, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

UNHCR has provided initial assistance of 700 tents, 200 family kits of emergency supplies, and a portable warehouse to the more than 700 families that have sought refuge in a new camp set up by local authorities in the Durrani area in Sadda town of Lower Kurram, about 30 kilometres from the conflict zone.

“In the coming days, we will deploy expert site planners and camp managers to New Durrani camp and work with local authorities and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to provide hot meals, build kitchens, pitch tents and distribute firewood,” Mr. Edwards said.

“We will also fund and provide technical support for a computer-based registration process for displaced people staying in and outside of the camps. Meanwhile, our staff will continue to provide tents and other relief supplies to displaced people in the camp.”

In 2010, some 130,000 people fled Lower Kurram to take refuge in the districts of Peshawar, Kohat and Hangu in Khyber Pakhtunkwa province. Most are still unable to return due to simmering tensions in their home areas.

In the past three years, more than four million people have been displaced in successive waves of conflict between government forces and militants in north-western Pakistan. While the vast majority has since returned home, some 400,000 people from South Waziristan, Orakzai, Kurram, Khyber, Mohmand and Bajaur tribal areas remain displaced.

Most live among host communities in Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Peshawar, Tank and Hangu areas of Khyber Pakhtunkwa province, but around 57,000 people still live in four camps.

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