Associated Press reports:
Pakistani Refugees Suffering in Camps
By ABDUL SATTAR
Associated Press Writer
Shah Mohammed Bugti says his 9-month-old son has died and his daughter may soon follow if humanitarian aid does not reach tens of thousands of desperate tribesmen who fled a civil conflict in Pakistan’s tense southwest.
The 22-year-old Bugti and the others have been uprooted by fighting between government troops and ethnic Baluch rebels in the vast desert of Baluchistan province, the scene of long-running unrest over autonomy and control of royalties from its natural gas fields.
Speaking in a fetid, sprawling camp of huts and flimsy tents in a roadside field where dozens of barefoot and thin children scurry about in dusty lanes, Bugti said, ‘It seems that we have been living in hell for the past one year.’
Tribal leaders say at least 76 people, most of them children, have died in the settlements the past three months from cold weather and malnutrition.
The conflict in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s biggest and poorest province, is a largely forgotten one.
Pakistan’s government wants to develop the resource-rich region but has alienated the local Baluch population by its use of military force, and there is growing evidence the fighting has had a grave impact on displaced civilians.
Bugti, who according to custom takes the name of his tribe, the Bugti, said his baby boy died of cold earlier this month.
Now, his 1-year-old daughter is seriously ill for lack of food, medicine and proper shelter.
‘It gets extremely cold at night,’ Bugti said. ‘We will all die without aid.’
A survey by U.N. Children’s Fund has counted 84,000 displaced people, including 26,000 women and 33,000 children, and recommended a $1 million emergency relief program. …
Human rights activists and opposition politicians have urged the government to resolve the crisis through negotiations, but Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has said rebels will be dealt with by force unless they lay down their arms.
USA and Jundullah group: here.
Pakistan: Report lifts veil on military and intelligence apparatus’ savage repression in Balochistan: here.