'One-third of Swat refugees have returned home' | world | Hindustan Times
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'One-third of Swat refugees have returned home'

At least one-third of the more than two million Swat refugees have returned home, the United Nations on Tuesday said, but expressed concern over the fresh round of displacement due to continued fighting in Pakistan's tribal region.

world Updated: Aug 11, 2009 10:54 IST

At least one-third of the more than two million Swat refugees have returned home, the United Nations on Tuesday said, but expressed concern over the fresh round of displacement due to continued fighting in Pakistan's tribal region.

"The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, since mid-July, 765,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) -- or 33 per cent of the total -- have returned to their places of origin," UN Deputy spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters here.

As a result, during the past week, four additional camps have been closed down, bringing the total number of closed camps since the return process began to nine, she said.

At the same time, continuing military operations in the Upper Dir district have caused additional displacement, which has led the UN refugee agency, or UNHCR, to set up additional camps in other areas, Okabe said. New outbreaks of fighting in Buner district have sent 35,000 people fleeing their homes.

In coordination with the World Food Programme, UNHCR has also identified four potential sites for humanitarian hubs to distribute food and basic supplies to returning IDPs.

OCHA on Tuesday reported that only 44 per cent of the $542 million requested by the revised Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan has been funded. Some 1.2 million internally displaced persons are still living with host communities, while over 160,000 others are sheltering in 21 camps, it said.