ISLAMABAD - As many as 4.1 million people in Pakistan including those of over one million displaced last year due to insecurity in FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are in an urgent need of humanitarian assistance, the United Nations has said.

The affectees include the internally displaced persons (IDPs), flash floods victims, registered Afghan refugees and Balochistan earthquakes' victims, reveals the latest humanitarian update issued here Friday by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).  It has also pointed to 57 per cent rise in polio cases in Pakistan last year compared to 2012, from 58 cases in 2012 to 91 in 2013.

Last month, the OCHA said $ 344 million were required in the ongoing 2014 to assist people affected by insecurity, floods and earthquakes.

The latest break-up of the 4.1 million in need suggests that 161,072 registered families with more than one million individuals are currently displaced in KP and FATA as a result of ongoing insecurity since 2008. More than 1.4 million people have returned to FATA since 2009 but still require humanitarian help. In addition, 185,000 people were affected by earthquakes in Balochistan in September 2013, of whom 120,000 need shelter assistance whereas 1.61 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan assisted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also need humanitarian aid, of whom 592,648 of whom live in 81 refugee villages.

The UN humanitarian update on IDPs in the FATA and KP comes on the heels of the ongoing targeted crackdowns in Waziristan region. Following attacks on the security pickets in North and South Waziristan Agencies, Pakistan Army and its paramilitary wing Frontier Corps KP recently launched targeted operations in the two insecurity plagued tribal agencies from where thousands of locals are reported to have relocated to the alternative places, mostly in Bannu, Hangu and the adjoining belts.

Prior to that, the military last year had launched two security operations, each in Khyber and Kurram Agencies that saw intense gun battle between the military men and the militants. While these areas are said to have been completely cleared of terror elements, the needs for humanitarian assistance persist.

The OCHA says, an assessment mission to Kurram Agency in FATA is slated from 21 to 24 January to determine whether the conditions for return are appropriate, and the support that would be required by IDPs seeking to return.

Last month, the UN humanitarian agency said that 108,273 people (19,095 families) returned to FATA including the first phase of returns to the Tirah Valley (Khyber Agency), which saw the return of nearly 31,000 registered IDPs (6,187 families) of the 80,000 displaced earlier in 2013.

"Insecurity remained a challenge in north-west Pakistan, as 140,000 people were displaced from the FATA due to increased hostilities and security operations against non-state armed actors, pushing the number of IDPs to more than one million that required continued life-saving food, shelter, water, health care, nutrition and protection support. More than 108,000 IDPs from FATA returned home during the year, though many returned to damaged homes and limited basic services. Over 1.4 million people who have returned to FATA since 2009 continue to try to recover and rebuild their livelihoods," the humanitarian agency stated.

On the rain floods and earthquakes, it said that monsoon floods affected more than 1.5 million people, many of them for the fourth consecutive year, and two strong earthquakes in Balochistan province affected more than 185,000 people, damaging about 47,000 houses and leaving many exposed to serious health risks in the current winter season.

"Vulnerable families in Balochistan, KP and FATA face a bitter winter and urgently need winterised non-food items and support to rebuild damaged or destroyed houses." Hosting 1.61 million registered Afghan refugees, Pakistan according to the UN, remains the world's largest refugee hosting country.

The world body says Pakistan faces climate change risks whose impacts include rise in sea level, glacial retreats, recurrent floods and droughts.

"Pakistan faces a range of threatening climate change risks: sea water intrusion into the Indus Delta, valley glaciers melting in high mountain areas and flooding while at the same time water scarcity leads to annual droughts.  Climate change effects could exacerbate food insecurity in areas currently vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition," according to OCHA's humanitarian update from last month.