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PESHAWAR, Pakistan - A military onslaught to uproot terrorist havens has forced more than half-a-million residents of northwest Pakistan to flee their homes in recent weeks, the military said this week. Around 37,000 families have left the restive North Waziristan region since the major land and air operation involving 70,000 troops began on June 15, and are living in camps or depending on the generosity of families and strangers in neighboring areas.

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The government has been criticized for not preparing for the huge onslaught of needy villagers, with only a small fraction of them finding shelter in government camps. “The people had left all their belongings in Waziristan and came out in panic as the fighter jets were pounding villages. Now it becomes responsibility to provide them food and shelter,” Malik Sher Mohammad Wazir, a regional leader, told NBC News by telephone. A spokesman for the army told NBC: "Displacement is painful. It's terrible. But rest assured, we will do what needs to be done to secure the [displaced people] and help our brethren."


- Mushtaq Yusufzai