Saudi Arabia to Aid Pakistan's Displaced

By John Felton, freelancer

Saudi Arabia has pledged more than $100 million to provide food, shelter, medical supplies and other aid to more than 2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Pakistan. The IDPs fled their homes in northern Pakistan in May when the government's offensive against Islamist militants in the restive North West Frontier Province heated up.

The displacement was one of the largest in recent memory. Another 550,000-plus Pakistanis had fled their homes during earlier rounds of fighting, as described in my March CQ Global Researcher report, "Aiding Refugees."

The Saudi pledge is the largest so far for the Pakistan situation, according to Martin Mogwanja, the U.N.'s Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan. Before the Saudi pledge, the U.N. had raised little more than one-half of the $680 million needed for its Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan.

More than a million displaced Pakistanis have returned to their homes since July, leaving about 1 million people still displaced. Most are living with "host" families, some of which have themselves run out of money. The rest of the IDPs are living in 19 camps. And many who have returned home need aid because they spent or lost all of their own resources while displaced, the U.N. said.

Besides its own IDPs, Pakistan still hosts nearly $1.8 million Afghan refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – some of whom have been there since fleeing their country after the 1979 Soviet invasion.

For more information see the CQ Global Researcher report on "Aiding Refugees" [subscription required] or purchase the CQ Global Researcher PDF