WASHINGTON - The UN health agency Friday expressed apprehension about supporting the 1.5 million uprooted people returning to their homes in Pakistans north-west where many health centres have been destroyed or looted during recent clashes between security forces and militants. We are still very much concerned about the possibility of being able to supply [returnees] with the necessary support in health, Eric Laroche, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a statement, which was also released at UN Headquarters in New York. He expressed relief that there have been no outbreaks of epidemics, attributing this to the early warning system in place on the ground. The problem now is that these people are going back home and we need to re-institute these types of surveillance systems and early warning systems in these areas of return, Dr Laroche said, adding that this will be a major challenge. The Geneva-based WHO, he said, needs $35 million to respond to the health crisis and recovery in northwest Pakistan. According to the Pakistani govt, almost 90 per cent of the 1.1m people in the Swat district - which has an overall population of 1.7 million - who were driven out by fighting have since returned to their homes. A UN inter-agency mission lead by Martin Mogwanja, the world bodys Humanitarian Coordinator, found that public sector infrastructure and facilities such as telecommunications and electricity are functional, but dilapidated. Food assistance is also crucial during the early recovery phase, the team said. Currently, there are four food distribution hubs in place, with every registered household receiving a monthly ration. In Swat, nearly 90 per cent of crops from the last harvest have been lost, it added. To assist the government and the international community to respond to needs in the wake of the countrys displacement crisis, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this week announced the appointment of veteran French diplomat Jean-Maurice Ripert as his Special Envoy for Assistance to Pakistan. Ripert, who is currently Frances Ambassador to the UN, will be tasked with promoting a strategic, coherent and comprehensive approach to supporting the humanitarian, recovery and reconstruction needs of crisis-affected areas in concert with the Pakistani Govt and international partners.