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Islamabad, 29 May 09

The United Nations and its partners launched the Humanitarian Action Plan, appealing for USD 543 million on 22 May.

The UN has identified food, safe water, medical assistance and shelter from the sweltering heat as priorities, also recognizing the need for displaced children to continue schooling and for mothers and babies to access special health and nutrition assistance.

Responding to the Government's request for humanitarian help, the appeal has been expanded to provide aid and protection to the newly displaced people as well as to the 550,000 people who had fled clashes last year in the same region.

The UNHCR reported that 200,000 of the more than 1.7 million recently uprooted people are living in camps, while the rest are staying with friends and family or in schools and other communal buildings.

With temperatures climbing to 45 degrees Celsius, UN-HABITAT and UNHCR as part of the shelter cluster, are working to provide shade above tents to protect people who have fled from much cooler climates in the Swat Valley.

Outside the camps, field teams have carried out assessments and have started handing out basic relief supplies in more than 700 schools where thousands of people are seeking refuge.

Highlighting the needs of nearly 70,000 pregnant women who have been forced to flee their homes by the recent fighting, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is boosting its support for reproductive health care – centering on comprehensive maternal, neonatal and child health care and psychosocial support. The agency said that almost 6,000 women are due to give birth within the next month, with nearly 1,000 of them needing surgery for pregnancy-related complications.

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