Here's an update from our emergency response team in Pakistan from their Tuesday, May 12:
- Our team distributed 800 emergency-supply kits to five temporary settlements in schools in Mardan. The kits were tailored to women: they contained shawls, sanitary pads, a hand fan, towel, soap, mosquito net, and mosquito repellant in a cloth carrying bag. The kits were the first aid items of any kind received by these families, and, not suprisingly, they were extremely well-received.
- The number of people who've registered with the UN as displaced by the current conflict is now more than 500,000, according to UNHCR.
- Various agencies now estimate that 1.5 million people ultimately will be displaced. Only some of these internally displaced people will be able to return to their homes anytime soon.
- "The situation is incredibly dynamic," says Diane Johnson, our regional program director for South Asia, who is in Islamabad. "The numbers of IDPs, locations, government requests and the actual conflict status change every few hours."
- Mercy Corps officials attended a couple of key coordination meetings, including one with Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad, the highly regarded Pakistan Army general who led the government's response to the October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. He's been tasked to lead the government's response to the current IDP crisis.
Our focus continues to be the needs of families who are taking refuge in other villages, which is putting a heavy strain on existing resources. (Only 15 percent of those fleeing their homes are going to established tent camps, according to UNHCR.) These families need food and supplies, clean water and adequate sanitation.