World News

U.N. seeks funds to help Pakistan displaced

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday it needs $17 million to help hundreds of thousands of people who have been uprooted by war and floods in Pakistan’s volatile northwest region.

Up to 180,000 people have fled their homes in the tribal area bordering Afghanistan and in the Swat region, while another 84,000 were displaced by floods in August, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

“The numbers are fluid as people come and go from their villages, but we expect them to increase as the conflict intensifies,” William Spindler told a Geneva news briefing.

UNHCR manages camps in government schools and other facilities that can provide shelter from the region’s harsh winters, and is distributing blankets and cooking supplies to people in need.

The border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan is seen as a safe haven for al Qaeda and other militants, and insurgent violence has escalated sharply in the region in the past year.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sept. 5 that cholera had broken out among the displaced. Spread mainly by contaminated water and food, the disease is endemic in the area. It begins with acute watery diarrhoea that in severe cases can cause death by dehydration and kidney failure within hours.