Thousands Flee Pakistan War Zone as Curfew Lifted

UN warns that refugee crisis could destabilize Pakistan
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2009 1:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Pakistan has temporarily lifted a curfew on the war-torn Swat Valley to let civilians flee the fighting, the BBC reports. Some 150,000 people are believed to be trapped in the city of Mingora, where Taliban militants have dug trenches and mined roads. The Pakistan military has vowed to clear the area of militants. Officials said 124 were killed in the 24 hours before the curfew was lifted.

The fighting has already caused the biggest refugee crisis in Pakistan's history, with hundreds of thousands of people living in harsh conditions in overflowing camps. The UN has called for an emergency injection of humanitarian aid. Its high commissioner for refugees, on a visit to the camps, warned that the huge numbers of displaced people could further destabilize the country.