Islamabad: Citing "intense security situation" in the region, the United Nations on Monday announced that it was pulling out all but essential international staff from Pakistan’s northwest and tribal areas.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has declared a security level of ‘Phase IV’ for the North West Frontier Province and tribal areas, under which only emergency operations will be carried out in the region and security measures for staff will be enhanced.
"The decision has been taken bearing in mind the intense security situation in the region," said a statement issued by the UN.
The UN is reducing the level of international staff in the country and confining its work only to emergency humanitarian relief and security operations, the statement said.
"The impact of Phase IV is reduced international UN staff members in NWFP and (the tribal areas), with presence of only those vital for emergency, humanitarian relief, security operations or any other essential operations as advised by the Secretary General," it said.
All other international staff involved in running programmes will be relocated out of NWFP and the tribal areas, the UN said.
Security measures for staff that will continue their work in the northwest and tribal belt will be enhanced.
The planning of future programmes in this region will continue and be in place to be initiated once the security situation improves, it added.
The decision by the world body comes in the backdrop of escalating militant violence in the country which has claimed the lives of 11 of its staff members this year.
The office of the UN food agency in Islamabad was among targets struck by the Taliban in a recent wave of bombings and suicide attacks across Pakistan.
Five UN staff members, including an Iraqi national and two Pakistani women, were killed in that attack which occurred on October 5.
The UN said it continued to be committed to providing development and humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan.
"It will continue to work in areas where most help is required. The safety and security of its staff is also very important to the organisation, hence it is taking steps to ensure the safety of its staff without hampering the most essential needs of the people of NWFP and (the tribal areas)," the statement said.