CARE Int'l helps Pakistan refugees

June 18, 2009 6:58:10 PM PDT
Pakistan's ferocious battle to get rid of the Taliban has created one of the largest civilian crises in the world today. Millions of civilians have been forced from their homes. ABC7's Cheryl Jennings talked with a relief worker for Care International in Islamabad -- who describes the utter desperation.

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The war against the Taliban in Northern Pakistan is taking such a toll on civilians that the United Nations says the fighting provoked the largest civilian exodus since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

"Somewhere between two and four million people have fled their homes and probably 80 to 85 percent of them are not in camps, but rather are staying with friends and relatives or even complete strangers who have taken them in," says Rick Perera, with CARE International in Islamabad.

The people who have taken in the refugees live on less than $2 a day, so their thin resources are running out and the refugees had to run from the violence with just the clothes on their backs.

"One of the first things CARE did was to get basic relief supplies, kitchen supplies, hygiene kits, soap, towels, so people can have a basic degree of dignity," says Perera.

Perera told Jennings by phone that CARE is trying to get food, tents, medical care and mosquito nets to the refugees who are living in 110-degree temperatures.

"There are families who have been living out in the open, under trees," says Perera.

He said nearly half of the refugees are children. Many of the homeless women are pregnant.

"There are reports that as many 50,000 women will be delivering in the next six months and it's really crucial to get medical care," says Perera.

CARE says your help is urgently needed.

"Twenty dollars can treat 20 individuals who are suffering from acute dehydration. Ten dollars can provide school clothes for a child. Five dollars can provide food for a family of 10 for two days. So these are small amounts that can definitely make a difference," says Perera.

You can check the care.org website for ways to get involved.

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