WASHINGTON, DC- Responding to recent evacuations following increased fighting in South Waziristan, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, released the following statement urging assistance from the Pakistani government for displaced Pakistani citizens:
“Pakistan’s military is engaged in heavy fighting against extremist forces in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border – I applaud their courage in this important fight and want to acknowledge that Pakistan has encountered heavy losses in its struggle against terrorism.
“The fighting in South Waziristan has forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee the region. More than 100,000 people have evacuated and the humanitarian community expects this number to rise to at least 170,000.
“As during the conflict in the Swat Valley earlier this year, nearly all of the new Internally Displaced People have been welcomed into the homes of relatives in neighboring districts. However, this does not mean that the Pakistani government should rely solely on the hospitality of families to meet the needs of the IDPs. The Pakistani government must look at lessons learned from the Swat Valley crisis and prepare a plan to meet the needs of the IDPs, especially as the conflict escalates.
“In August, I visited the Jalozai IDP camp and saw first-hand the plight of the IDPs, and the commitment of those supporting the ongoing humanitarian relief efforts. I urge the Pakistani government to address the urgent needs of the IDPs and ensure that they have access to food, shelter and sanitation. I also urge the Pakistani government to make every effort to ensure that the IDPs are not prevented from leaving the conflict area and can be accessed by humanitarian workers.”