Saturday, May 23, 2009

UN in $543m Pakistan aid appeal

The UN has appealed for a total of $543m in humanitarian aid to help more than 1.6 million people displaced by fighting in north-west Pakistan.
The UN said the "extraordinary" exodus had caused "incredible suffering".
Tens of thousands of people are being housed in camps south of the main fighting zone in the Swat valley.
Separately, the top US military commander, Adm Michael Mullen, has warned that the US troop build-up in Afghanistan could push Taliban fighters deeper into Pakistan, further destabilising it. Martin Mogwanja, acting UN humanitarian coordinator, said: "The scale of this displacement is extraordinary in terms of size and speed and has caused incredible suffering.
On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani chaired a donor conference in Islamabad and officials said the international community had so far responded with pledges of $224m. In Swat, the army says that about 15,000 members of the security forces are fighting between 4,000 and 5,000 militants.
Meanwhile Adm Mullen admitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington that successes against the Taliban in Afghanistan could push militants further into Pakistan.
Adm Mullen's comments come as US President Barack Obama's administration prepares to send thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan.

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