World Vision responds as Pakistanis continue to flee violence



    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 11 /CNW/ - World Vision, its partners and the
Pakistani government are coordinating relief efforts in order to respond to
growing human suffering in the northwest region of the country. New waves of
refugees are fleeing from the Swat valley every day as fighting intensifies
between the army and the Taliban.
    "There is human suffering on a massive scale, and it's getting worse.
Even with the well-functioning camps and their present effective management
and coordination, a rapid movement of even more displaced people could lead to
challenges," said Jeff Hall, World Vision's deputy director for advocacy in
the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. "The camps are well
organized, but there is no comfort in a refugee camp."
    World Vision has finished its preliminary assessments from the Jalala
camp in Mardan and the Chota Lahore camp in Swabi and is preparing to ramp up
its relief and response efforts. Later this week, World Vision will begin
distributing non-food items such as pots, pans and cooking supplies to
families in need in both the camps and the host communities.
    "In order to bring quick, effective relief to the people of Pakistan, we
are working in coordination with the UN, other aid agencies, and the Pakistani
government to provide aid to those who need it most," said Canadian Graham
Strong, World Vision's National Director in Pakistan. "Right now, we must
continue to stay focused on our first priority - helping the people of the
Swat valley."
    The biggest concerns remain the searing heat that makes life in the tents
uncomfortable, the potential for overcrowding within the camps, and the
growing daily strain on "host communities". Host communities are friends,
relatives, guesthouses, and other government shelters that are set up in the
communities around the camps to help absorb the influx of new refugees every
day.
    Preliminary reports from the field have found that between 70 and 80 per
cent of the displaced people are living in these host communities, putting an
even greater strain on families that are already living in poverty and have
very little capacity to provide for their rapidly growing households. There is
a desperate need to provide assistance to those living in host communities so
that people do not begin to compete for scarce resources or move to already
crowded camps.
    World Vision has operated in Pakistan since 1992. World Vision does not
have child sponsorship programs in the country. Communities in five districts
of Pakistan benefit from our intervention targeting health, water and
sanitation, education, and psychosocial support. World Vision Canada funds
more than $780,000 in projects that focus on community farming for families,
child rights which ensures that children have access to quality services, and
improvement in the standard of living after the earthquake that hit Pakistan
in October 2005.

    World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization
dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome
poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion,
race, ethnicity or gender.





For further information:

For further information: To interview World Vision staff, please
contact: Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),
yoko_kobayashi@WorldVision.ca; Alex Sancton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3949, (416)
419-1321 (cell), alex_sancton@WorldVision.ca


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