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American Refugee Committee Responds to Refugee Crisis in Pakistan

Hundreds of thousands flee cities in the wake of fighting north of the capital

May 13, 2009

Minneapolis, MN - Relief workers from the Minneapolis-based American Refugee Committee are assessing the needs of refugees in the Swat Valley north of Islamabad, Pakistan. Intense fighting between Taliban militias and the Pakistani military has caused hundreds of thousands to flee their homes since Friday.

They are crowding into makeshift refugee camps carrying little more than the clothes on their backs. Relief agencies are overwhelmed, and people are in desperate need of water, sanitation, and medical care.

“This crisis is stretching aid agencies thin,” said Daniel Wordsworth, American Refugee Committee President. “We can only do so much with the resources we currently have. ARC needs the support of all our donors to get these people what they need — water, medical care, and sanitation.”

On Sunday, government officials briefly lifted a curfew to allow people who had been trapped in their homes to escape. Refugees streamed out of cities by the thousands, although many became stranded on the roads, which were closed as the curfew was reimposed.

“The American Refugee Committee is well-established in Pakistan and our staff are well-trained in the areas of health, water and sanitation. We will do all we can to help,” Wordsworth said.

The American Refugee Committee has provided relief services in Pakistan since 2002. ARC mobilized emergency responses to earthquakes in 2005 and 2008 and a flood in 2007. ARC continues to work with about 300,000 disaster survivors and 86,000 Afghan refugees, providing primary and reproductive health care, clean water, sanitation, gender-based violence prevention, and community development services.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN REFUGEE COMMITTEE:  The American Refugee Committee is a Minnesota-based humanitarian aid agency that works to help people take back control of their lives.  The partnerships we form with our constituents provide essential services and economic opportunities to people who have lost everything due to conflict and disaster.  Each year, ARC works with nearly 2.5 million people in Africa and Asia.

Press contact: Therese Gales at (800) 875-7060.

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