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Martin Penner, a former journalist, has worked for WFP since 2008.
WFP is now assisting 650,000 IDPs in Pakistan’s troubled border region with Afghanistan, including 200,000 who have arrived in recent days from Lower Dir, Swat and Buner districts
ISLAMABAD – WFP is providing emergency rations to 650,000 people who have fled their homes due to fighting in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) between the Pakistan government and Taliban militants. Read news release
The number of IDPs in need of food assistance rose sharply recently after the government launched fresh offensives in the Lower Dir, Swat and Buner districts of NWFP. The 650,000 IDPs that WFP is currently assisting include some 200,000 that arrived in safe zones this month.
The government began stepping up its counterinsurgency operations during the second half of 2008 and since then the number of IDPs needing WFP's assistance has steadily risen. Find out more about the background to the fighting
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Find out more about the background to the fighting on the BBC News website.
Mobilized in-country stocks
“WFP has mobilized in-country stocks and is prepared to feed the growing population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) for the next two to three months,” said WFP Pakistan Country Representative Wolfgang Herbinger.
“Assisting hungry families is our first priority,” he added, noting that donations are needed quickly to meet the growing demand for food.
WFP is planning on the basis of doubled food needs and is rapidly scaling up its IDP operation. The organization is setting up additional food distribution hubs in Mardan and Swabi districts - the main receiving districts for the latest wave of displacements – and is making arrangements to ensure that food assistance reaches all registered IDPs. Some registered IDPs are in camps but most are in host communities.
Food assistance needed
The people arriving in the new wave from the conflict zones have a desperate need of food, shelter and medical care.
“We had to leave very fast,” said Abdul Khan, a resident of Mingora town in Swat district. "We heard that the shooting had lessened and we left in a hurry. We could not bring anything. There wasn't even any time to bury the dead or bring them with us. We now depend on the kindness of people who are willing to help us."
“We need the international donor community to quickly step forward with donations to avoid any interruptions in food distributions,” said Herbinger.