“I would go back,” said Rahim*, in an interview with The Express Tribune last year. “But to what? My house is intact but I can’t earn a living if the situation is unstable.”
Rahim moved to Karachi as a result of the military operation in Swat. He is among the millions displaced by conflict in Pakistan, which has shown the most dramatic increase in internal displacement in the past decade.
With an estimate of 980,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), Pakistan ranks sixth on a list of countries with the largest IDP population in 2010.
A recent report by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) titled Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2010 highlights the state of IDPs worldwide.
According to the report, almost three million people were newly displaced globally by the end of 2010.
Pakistan’s 400,000 IDPs account for half of the total displacements in the region last year. The report notes that this figure does not include Fata and Balochistan since these areas were inaccessible to humanitarian workers and the media.
Three hundred thousand people fled Fata in 2010 and more than 100,000 left Balochistan “due to military operations against separatist groups and the separatists’ intimidation of government-sponsored settlers”. IDMC says 40,000 members of the Bugti tribe were also displaced, but lack of access made it difficult to know about the displacement of Baloch groups.
The government and army led the response to the displacement, but had different goals. The report says that while provincial governments ensured that projects by foreign agencies were aligned with national priorities, the army aligned the response with counter-insurgency objectives.
The report says the “government did not allow international assistance to people displaced by conflict in Balochistan, large parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or all of Fata.”
Despite this, Pakistan is noted as one of the countries which took “significant measures” to deal with IDPs.However, people displaced by the floods in Balochistan “received little assistance from humanitarian organisations due to limited access to the area”.
*The name has been changed for privacy.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2011.