More than 440,000 people are in dire need of emergency humanitarian assistance after being displaced from Khyber Agency, said a statement issued by Oxfam GB here on Friday. Since January, security operation against non-state armed groups in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) have prompted mass displacement.
A recent influx of 63,000 displaced families- bringing the total to almost half a million people – into districts of K-P, has sparked concerns among international and national NGOs in Pakistan.
To this end, The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) and the National Humanitarian Network are calling for financial support from the government and donor agencies to ensure the needs of the displaced persons are met.
As per the government’s estimates, the situation of IDPs could last up to six months while the humanitarian community forecasts that the families would not be able to return until 2013. Oxfam further reports that 20,000 more families could be expected to be displaced as the conflict spreads to other parts of K-P.
Registered people are struggling to find shelter, while some are placed with host communities. Only 10% of these displaced families have settled in Jalozai Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, where the registered displaced have access to basic necessities such as food, shelter and essential healthcare services.
PHF Chairperson Aine Fay said that nearly half of families displaced are unregistered, which excluded them from receiving any aid. Over 40% of families struggle to find shelter and about 80% of families assessed said they have little or no access to healthcare or medicines and are dependent on the minimal income earned by men securing work as daily wage labourers.
Children account for half of the displacement figures. Assessments revealed that 12% of the displaced are under the age of two while 16% are less than five years old.
The situation raises serious concerns for their security, health and wellbeing, the statement added. About 13% of children are already said to be suffering from psychological distress.
Save the Children Country Director David Wright said that many children will engage in hazardous occupations such as
helping hands at workshops and teahouses or worst still as beggars and garbage pickers. Putting these children back in school is
the best hope for their future.
NHN and PHF has called for the local government to issue notification to District Education Officers to admit children to the schools available in host communities to the full capacity possible putting aside usual requirements for certificates or an ID cards.
PHF and NHN are also calling for the start of registration and distribution of aid outside of Jalozai IDP camp, where the vast majority of IDPs have settled.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2012.