- The Washington Times - Monday, April 12, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — More than 200,000 people have fled a recent military offensive against Taliban militants in northwestern Pakistan, the United Nations said Monday, as fresh clashes killed 41 insurgents and two soldiers.

The military has pounded the Orakzai tribal region with airstrikes and artillery in an attempt to rout insurgents from the rugged, mountainous area near the Afghan border. Many Taliban fighters fled to Orakzai last year to escape a separate army offensive in their tribal stronghold of South Waziristan.

The exodus of civilians from Orakzai adds to the more than 1.3 million people driven from their homes by fighting in the northwest and unable to return.

The United Nations warned Monday it faces a severe shortfall in funding needed to aid those displaced, saying it has received only about $106 million, or 20 percent, of the $538 million appeal it launched in February for the next six months. Last year, the United Nations had received 40 percent of its appeal by this time.

“Already some of our NGO partners … providing a humanitarian response are canceling lifesaving projects and laying off their well-trained and well-experienced staff who are able to implement these projects efficiently in the affected areas,” said Martin Mogwanja, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan.

The projects affected include those providing water, food, health care and sanitation for the displaced, Mr. Mogwanja said.

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