Increasing numbers of displaced in Pakistan bring camps to capacity with days

The volatile situation in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan continues to bring increasing number of displacements each day.

So far 27 camps in six different districts have been set up to give temporary shelter for people fleeing the violence. Still there are many people remaining in the conflict areas, trapped due to insecurity and strict curfews, preventing people from leaving their homes and giving them limited access to food, water and the possibility to seek emergency medical care.

"On the fourth day this camp reached its limit to receive more people," said Jean-Pierre Amigo, Emergency Field Coordinator in Pakistan. "So far we have set up 516 tents in this IDP camp and we received the permission to use the neighbouring land to set up an extension that can host an additional 700 to 800 tents."

In the midst of the intensified conflict that started in mid-April, MSF was forced to stop all emergency medical care in the Swat district of the NWFP. MSF was the only organisation supporting the hospital in Mingora and provided ambulance services in that region. The people are left without any access to emergency medical care.

Not only have people been forced to flee, leaving their homes and even family members behind but are now facing new challenges in the camps for internally displaced people (IDP). Rising temperature, reaching scorching heat up to 40 degrees, is making it more difficult for people to cope in an already difficult situation.

MSF is currently supporting an IDP camp in Mardan district, 100km northwest of the capital, Islamabad. MSF is providing health care, tents, water points for clean water, building latrines and distributing non-food items. The medical facility that MSF has set up in the Mardan camp is doing medical consultations in the out-patient department (OPD) for both males and females. MSF also provides free drugs and has a 24-hour response for critical patients and referral by ambulance to the nearest hospital. MSF has set up a labour and delivery room with anti-natal and post-natal care.

"Since I arrived in the Mardan IDP camp we have had between 150-300 medical consultations per day," said Dr Amjad, who is a doctor for MSF and previously worked in the MSF supported Saidur Sharif hospital in Swat before he was forced to flee the area.

"The most common health problems that I have seen so far is cases of watery diarrhoea, scabies, heat exhaustion and general pain from walking long distances by foot through the mountains."

In addition, MSF is distributing non-food items to people living in so-called "non-official camps", like mosques and school buildings, with essentials such as cooking sets and hygiene and sleeping kits.

MSF´s remaining activities in Pakistan-Baluchistan, Kurram Agency and in the Peshawar area- continues to run uninterrupted. MSF also supports basic health units in the Peshawar region that is hosting families displaced by the conflict. MSF also supports a camp in Charsadda and distributes non-food items to displaced people in Peshawar, Charsadda and Mardan since August 2008.