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US envoy Holbrooke headed to Pakistan

world Updated: Jun 02, 2009 10:35 IST

DPA
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With millions of people forced from their homes due to intense fighting in Pakistan's northwestern provinces, the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke will head to the region later this week to assess the humanitarian situation, the State Department said on Monday.

Holbrooke, who was named by President Barack Obama in January as an envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, will travel to Pakistan from Wednesday to Friday, according to State Department spokesman Robert Wood.

He will visit refugee camps, meet with relief workers and government officials to "assess the welfare of the people displaced by the security operations being carried out by Pakistani authorities against insurgent extremists," Wood said.

The month-long offensive by Pakistan's military against Taliban militants has driven about 2.5 million people out of the Swat valley and other parts of the North-West Frontier Province.

The military on Monday said much of the region has been cleared of militants and some degree of "normalcy" was returning.

Aid workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross were able to enter Swat on Sunday for the first time since the operation began, and said they were alarmed by the "dire" humanitarian situation for tens of thousands of civilians that were trapped in the conflict zone.