Diocese tries to help Swat refugees

21 May 2009

by Bill Bowder

Sharing: the Revd Dr David Gosling (front left) with refugees and students, in Mardan, last week

Sharing: the Revd Dr David Gosling (front left) with refugees and students, in Mardan, last week

THE UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned that the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan has become “one of the most dramatic of recent times”. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been fleeing from fighting in the Swat valley, northern Pakistan (News, 15 May).

Ron Redmond, a UNHCR spokes­man, said on Monday: “It’s like trying to catch something that’s mov­ing ahead of us, because the number of people on the move every day is so big and the response is never enough.”

He estimated that it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds to keep up with the influx. A financial appeal for the region was expected soon. It was reported that large num­bers of civilians remain in the dis­puted areas, some of whom cannot afford to leave, and are at risk as the fighting intensified.

Dr David Gosling, Principal of Ed­wardes College, University of Pesh­awar, said on Monday that students from the college, both Christian and Muslim, were working with the refugees.

Last week, the Bishop of Peshawar, the Rt Revd Mano Rumalshah, said that 200 people walked the 100 miles to the diocesan relief camp set up at the Christian Vocational Centre in Mardan. Among them were three preg­­nant women. The diocesan weekly paper reported that two of the women had given birth and were being cared for by the diocesan medical team.

“Most [of the refugees] are arriv­ing on foot with little or no money at all. In view of the prevailing security situation in their home ­towns, af­fected families will require rehab­ilitation through employment oppor­tunities and education.”

The diocesan relief camp needed bedding, medicines, food, clothes, and prayers, it said.

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