Fighting in South Waziristan has led to the death of many civilians, according to reports from those fleeing the area. However, restrictions on access make it impossible to get accurate information on civilian casualties.
The restrictions prevent all aid workers and journalists from reaching South Waziristan. As a result, no one knows how many civilians remain trapped or how many have been killed or injured. The restrictions also prevent much needed aid from flowing in. The fighting has displaced over 100,000 so far, and more arrive each day—often on foot.
I know a number of journalists that have been stopped and detained just trying to reach Dera Ismail Khan—the town nearest to the fighting and a destination for many of the displaced. Even the Red Cross has made a rare, public call for more access. Working in Waziristan is dangerous, but so is knowing nothing about the situation of civilians. Information is the first step towards helping those still caught in the conflict and a more balanced approach is urgently needed.