Two days on: Mehsud IDPs continue protest against reduced food rations

Published: January 22, 2013

Tribesmen are boycotting food supplies for the past two days in protest over the reduction in rations in DI Khan and Tank districts. PHOTO: EXPRESS

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of the Mehsud tribe have refused to accept food rations from the World Food Organisation (WFO). 

Tribesmen have been boycotting food supplies for the past two days in protest over the reduction in rations by WFO in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank districts.

Mehsud IDPs have been provided food supplies by the WFO since Pakistan Army’s Operation Rah-e-Nijat, which was conducted in 2009 against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in South Waziristan.

Thousands of IDPs gathered in front of the Town Hall in DI Khan and held a protest. The demonstrators swirled to the beat of drums in a traditional tribal dance called Attan.

The protesters then held a jirga in which they decided that the protest will continue indefinitely and that they [IDPs] will not collect rations from any of the three ration distribution centres set up in Zam Public School Tank, Zafarabad Colony and Pahar Pur in DIK.

Resident Dilawar Khan Mehsud said that a family of seven was previously given 80 kilogrammes (kg) of flour per month, which has been reduced to just 40kg. He added that IDPs should be given adequate quantities of food items.

Abdul Mateen, a displaced person currently settled in Zhob district of Balochistan, had a different story to tell. Mateen said Mehsud IDPs, armed with sticks, are standing guard in front of the ration centres and not allowing anyone to collect food. He added that he was willing to accept the reduced amount.

“I came from Zhob three days ago and have been visiting the centre every day, but I am unable to get food items,” he said. “I am a poor person and coming to DI Khan for food rations is giving me no advantages. Instead I have to bear travel expenses. This protest is not in our interest.” He demanded that the issue be resolved soon.

Meanwhile, Mehsud Youth President Jamal Shah, along with other members, held a news conference at the DI Khan Press Club and demanded that WFO’s decision to reduce rations be taken back as it will have negative effects on poor IDPs living in Tank, DI Khan and other parts of the country.

Despite many attempts, the WFO spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

However, South Waziristan coordinator for the FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) Syed Umar told The Express Tribune that the reduction was temporary and due to a lack of funds available to the WFO. He said rations were reduced not only for Mehsud IDPs, but also for Fata IDPs in other parts of Pakistan as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2013.

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