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U.S. eyes extra $200 mln for displaced Pakistanis

world Updated: Jun 03, 2009 20:08 IST
U.S. eyes extra $200 mln for displaced Pakistanis

The United States aims to give Pakistan an extra $200 million for about two million people displaced by an offensive against Taliban militants, a U.S. envoy said on Wednesday.

The army began battling Taliban in the Swat region in late April, after a militant thrust into a district 100 km (60 miles) northwest of the capital raised fear at home and abroad that the nuclear-armed country could slowly slip into militant hands.

But the fighting has forced more than 2 million people from their homes, adding to the burdens of an already burdened nation, U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke told a news conference after arriving in Pakistan.

The United Nations has appealed for $543 million to help the displaced but only a fraction of that has been pledged, including $110 million the United States promised on May 19.

"The president ... has requested the Congress of the United States to allocate an additional $200 million immediately for humanitarian assistance for the refugee crisis," Holbrooke said, adding he was hopeful Congress would approve the aid.
Holbrooke, who said he intended to visit camps for the displaced that have been set up in the northwest, called on other countries to step up their help.

"Other countries can and should do more," he said, referring to countries in Europe and the Gulf. "Instability in Pakistan is not good for any of the countries in the region."

The more than 2 million people driven from their homes by fighting over the past month have joined about 500,000 displaced by earlier fighting in the northwest.

The army has secured many parts of Swat, including its main town of Mingora, where a commander said earlier on Wednesday utilities should be restored in two weeks and then people could start going home.

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