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Holbrooke: Pakistani Refugees Are 'Major, Major Crisis'

US envoy Richard Holbrooke called Wednesday for refugees from the combat zone in western Pakistan to be allowed to return home as soon as possible, ending a grave crisis.

"US Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke addresses a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan on June 5, 2009."

"This is a major, major crisis," Holbrooke told reporters following his trip to Pakistan last week, adding it is the largest refugee flow since Pakistan split from India 62 years ago.

"The highest priority is for these people to return to their homes as soon as possible," he said.

He said the Pakistani military will have to ensure security for the estimated 2.5 million people who have fled the weeks-long offensive against Taliban insurgents near the border with Afghanistan.

He said the vast majority of the refugees are staying in private homes or other places, and only a minority are in tent cities, but warned the problem will get worse with the rainy season, which would bring the risk of cholera.

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