Ongoing military operations in Khyber Agency have forced hundreds of families to evacuate from the area, an international charity group said in a report on internally displaced persons.
More than 240,000 people have been registered as displaced from Khyber Agency so far and the number is expected to increase as the registration process continue, according to a report by Save the Children International.
Families in Khyber Agency continue to receive instructions from the military to evacuate the area.
“The situation is becoming even worse; in addition to an ongoing military operation launched by the Pakistan Army against militants in January, more families from Upper Dir are also coming to the IDP camps after recent cross-border raids. Aid agencies fear the number of internally displaced persons from Khyber Agency will top the previous influx from other areas where military operations were carried out,” said a senior official of an aid agency in Pakistan, requesting anonymity.
The study reveals that about 57,000 IDPs live at the Jalozai camp, while the rest of them are staying with host families in Peshawar and Nowshera districts. Access to basic services and facilities is a monumental challenge for a majority of vulnerable IDP families.
According to official statements, while there is no full-fledged military operation in Khyber Agency, displacement may last six to nine months. Aid agencies, however, predict this is going to be a protracted crisis, according to a source working at the Fata Secretariat Islamabad.
The report further stated that the local authorities have requested international aid agencies, including the United Nations, to assist in meeting their needs.
Humanitarian Operational Plan
After the revision of Humanitarian Operational Plan (HOP) in April 2012, it was decided by the humanitarian community that the HOP should also support meeting the needs of the recent influx of registered IDPs displaced from Khyber Agency. Presently, the total amount needed under the revised HOP is $307 million. Only $139 million (45%) has been funded so far.
The revised HOP reflects discussions on the outstanding needs of vulnerable IDPs and host populations in northwestern Pakistan.
The Humanitarian Operational Plan covers all relief activities for IDPs while they are displaced, as well as support for their return home. It is an inter-cluster plan that provides a holistic approach to meeting outstanding humanitarian needs, factoring in anticipated shifts and changes throughout the year.
Restrictions on international NGOs
The NGO highlighted in the study also complained about the delayed issuance of work visas from Pakistan for international aid workers, a problem which is causing increased administrative costs and inability to adequately support projects.
The report urges the international community to advocate for reduced restrictions and for the government of Pakistan to increase its support of aid agencies.
Salient features of the report
• The revised Humanitarian Operational Plan (HOP) is currently 45% underfunded.
• Over 90% of new IDPs are staying off-camp, living in rented spaces or with host families.
• Due to the gradual onset of this crisis, it has attracted little international attention, making it difficult to gain funding.
• Further efforts are required to ensure access to health services and nutritional support for women and children.
• The government must ensure aid workers have continued access to conflict affected areas, and that their security is prioritised.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.
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