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Ban asks Pak to protect civilians in disturbed areas

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari to "take all necessary care" to protect civilians in the disturbed areas as also those fleeing the fighting.

world Updated: May 13, 2009 08:03 IST

As Pakistani forces intensified their attack against Taliban in the conflict ridden areas bordering Afghanistan, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari to "take all necessary care" to protect civilians in the disturbed areas as also those fleeing the fighting.

"The United Nations is ready and will always stand by to provide the necessary assistance, humanitarian assistance. I have asked him (Zardari) to facilitate smooth delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection of humanitarian workers," Ban told reporters on Tueday after meeting the Pakistani President.

During their meeting, the two leaders had intensive discussions on the growing humanitarian crisis in North West Frontier Province, where United Nations agencies are ramping up aid to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing a Government offensive against militants.

Ban voiced the UN's concern for the protection of civilians and the grave problems being experienced by ordinary people as a result of recent developments, Ban's spokesperson said.

Zardari reiterated his Government's commitment to safeguard the interests and livelihood of the affected population, Pakistani sources said.

They agreed on the need for increased UN assistance to alleviate the plight of those displaced from their homes by the fighting.

Meanwhile, together with Government authorities, UN agencies in Pakistan are working to provide the affected families with basic necessities, such as food and nutrition assistance, shelter, water, sanitation facilities, primary health care and education.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been providing emergency food rations to around 650,000 people who have fled the conflict areas, including some 200,000 newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the Lower Dir, Swat and Buner districts.

The agency announced plans to double the amount of emergency food aid assistance reaching registered IDPs in camps as well as in host communities, who account for more than 80 per cent of all those displaced.

"We need the international donor community to quickly step forward with donations to avoid any interruptions in food distributions," said WFP's Pakistan Country Representative Wolfgang Herbinger.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that a Boeing 747 carrying 120 tons of relief supplies had left Dubai en route for Islamabad.