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Pakistani Girls Get First Shot At Education

Pakistani Girls Get First Shot At Education In UN-Supported Camps

Children uprooted by the violence in the war-torn north-western region of Pakistan have unexpectedly benefited from their plight by having the opportunity to attend school for the first time in United Nations-supported camps, reported a senior UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) official.

During a visit to Pakistan this week, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Hilde F. Johnson met some of the thousands of families who have fled conflict in the Bajaur agency, on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as government ministers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), donors and beneficiaries of the agency’s programmes in the country.

In the UNICEF-supported Katcha Gari camp, Ms. Johnson talked to girls who had their first opportunity to attend school while in the camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), and helped to administer polio vaccines as part of a campaign to immunise all Pakistani children under the age of five.

“The conflict in north-western Pakistan affects areas of the country where the people, especially children, already suffered from a lack of services and development,” said Ms. Johnson.

Ms. Johnson requested government support in delivering essential services to families displaced by conflict in a meeting with the Governor of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), noting that over two-thirds of those living in the camps are children and are in urgent need of care and protection.

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“In the IDP camps, we have both an imperative to support children – the defenceless victims of conflict – and an opportunity to deliver health and education services that they could not avail before,” she added in a press release issued by the agency yesterday.

In addition to high-level discussions with cabinet ministers in the country’s capital, Islamabad, Ms. Johnson had the opportunity to meet some of the children and women who have been helped by UNICEF.

She heard one story of a 28-year-old mother living in the Katcha Gari camp whose family was forced to abandon their village and all their belongings in Bajaur. They could not even take their warm clothes. Her elder children had never been to school, but with the encouragement of a UNICEF partner, she had enrolled her five-year-old daughter in the camp school.

“Hearing from the residents of Katcha Gari, like Shazadgai Yousuf, who are benefiting from our work in the IDP camps, it becomes even more important to reaffirm UNICEF's commitment to helping Pakistan's children, particularly the most vulnerable, to achieve their full potential through health, education, protection, and a healthy ῥnvironment, said Ms. Johnson.

ENDS

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