Saudi Arabia pledges $100 million for Pakistani displaced persons


United Nations : Saudi Arabia has made a $100 million pledge to help UN’s humanitarian efforts in Pakistan, where more than 1 million displaced people from the country’s north-west have yet to return to their homes, it was announced Thursday.

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More than 1 million of the 2.7 million people displaced since the start of the conflict last August are still living with host families or in camps, with ongoing military operations triggering new displacements, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Saudi Arabia’s contribution, the single largest for the current emergency in Pakistan, “will enable the humanitarian community in Pakistan to reach hundreds of thousands of people in need and help restore their homes and livelihoods,” said Martin Mogwanja, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the country.

To date, just over half of the $680 million aid appeal for Pakistan has been funded by nearly two dozen nations, private individuals and organizations.

The humanitarian situation in Pakistan was among the topics discussed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Asif Ali Zardari earlier this week.

In a related development, Ban met Thursday in New York with a number of world leaders for a meeting of the Group of Friends of Democratic Pakistan.

“He is to tell the Group of Friends that Pakistan bears the burden of one of the major challenges of our times, the spread of violent extremism, with regional implications,” UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.

“He will stress that the decision of the Government of Pakistan and the Group of Friends to confront it together is undoubtedly the right course, however demanding the struggle ahead may be.”