Pakistan Seeks World Aid for Civilians Displaced by Fighting
|Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari (l) and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at U.N. headquarters in New York, 12 May 2009|
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari has appealed to the world to help more than one million civilians displaced by the fighting against Taliban militants in the country’s northwest.
Mr. Zardari told reporters after talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York Tuesday that he and Mr. Ban are joining an appeal for humanitarian assistance.
Mr. Ban expressed deep concern about the humanitarian situation in northwestern Pakistan. He said the U.N. is ready to provide aid to the displaced Pakistanis, but he urged Mr. Zardari to take all necessary care to protect the civilian population.
The appeal came as Pakistan’s army continued to battle Taliban militants in Swat valley. Army helicopters dropped troops behind Taliban positions in the Piochar area, the suspected stronghold of Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah.
Military officials said 751 militants have been killed since the offensive began last week.
Military officials say about 800,000 people have fled the fighting, which brings the number of displaced people in the northwest to more than one million.
The United Nations refugee agency airlifted 120 tons of relief supplies into Pakistan Tuesday, including mosquito nets, plastic sheets for emergency shelters and two portable warehouses.
In other violence, a suspected U.S. drone (unmanned) aircraft killed at least eight people near the Afghan border Tuesday.
Officials said the attack took place in South Waziristan, an area considered to be an al-Qaida and Pakistani Taliban stronghold. The victims’ identities were not immediately known.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.