WASHINGTON, May 20 Pakistan will likely have to cope with some 1.5 million people forced from their homes by fighting between troops and militants until the end of the year, a U.S. military official said on Wednesday.
Rear Admiral Michael LeFever, the U.S. defense attache in Pakistan, said the displaced population would change over time as troops cleared militants from some areas but the total would stay the same as the troops pressed on to other regions.
"This population will be a different population but the numbers will be consistent -- around the 1-1/2 million mark of total displaced personnel," LeFever said in a conference call with reporters at the Pentagon.
He cited Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed, the head of the Pakistani government's relief efforts, as the source of his information.
"General Nadeem has alluded... that he expects this number to potentially peak about the 2 million point and that will most likely occur in the next seven to 10 days," LeFever said.
He said the increase was expected as the Pakistani military moved into Mingora, the main town in the Swat valley region.
The United States on Tuesday offered Pakistan $110 million to help people driven from their homes by the fighting in Swat.
The Pakistani military launched its offensive in Swat this month after Taliban militants thrust from there into an area closer to the capital Islamabad, raising alarm both at home and abroad.
Around 200,000 to 250,000 of the displaced people are in camps while the rest stay with families, LeFever said.
LeFever was briefing reporters on the Pentagon's contributions to humanitarian efforts in Pakistan, which included the arrival on Wednesday of two C-17 aircraft loaded with relief supplies. (Reporting by Andrew Gray; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)