Trapped in Mingora
Thursday, May 28, 2009

The New-York based rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch, has once more expressed acute concern over the fate of people still trapped in Mingora and pointed out that a curfew that has been in place for days prevents food, medicines and other vital supplies reaching these people. HRW has once more called on both parties locked in the current conflict to do more to save non-combatants. People in Mingora have meanwhile given a chilling account of life without power or water, of injured people unable to reach hospitals and of children facing death by starvation. Even the lifting of the curfew is likely to bring at best only partial relief to people. There have indeed been reports of convoys taking food up to areas of conflict being hijacked by the Taliban.

HRW and other groups have consistently been pointing to a need to do more for those in war zones. Their fate has largely been forgotten with attention focused on the more visible issue of the IDPs who have been streaming south with over 120,000 according to the UNHCR leaving home each day. Their plight deserves international focus, but the fact also is that those able to come are the relatively better off who have the funds and the means to make the journey out of villages and towns. Those left behind are in many cases the most impoverished, and subsequently the most hapless, with the least ability to save themselves from the perils of a conflict that has already taken a terrible toll on the lives of everyone caught up in it.

These people need help. This is true not only of those in Mingora but people trapped elsewhere as well. Deaths due to shortages of medicine have been reported form places such as the Kurram Agency as well. Our politicians need to sit together with military commanders and determine how best these people can be saved from the worst ravages of war. In some cases at least evacuations need to be considered. We cannot sit back and let people die because they are too poor to escape or because they have been kept by militants as human shields in a tactic aimed to maximize civilian casualties.

SOURCE: http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=179883





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