IDPs even lose their identity

With no identification documents to prove who they are, flood survivors are now just nameless citizens.


Abdullah Sheikh August 22, 2010

HYDERABAD: With no clothes, food or shelter, the internally displaced persons (IDPs), have lost everything to the floods - even their identity. With no identification documents to prove who they are, flood survivors are now just nameless citizens.

Muhammad Rafiq Soomro and his family left all their belongings and escaped the flood in Jacobabad and reached Hyderabad with nothing. Although they are staying in the largest relief camp in the city, they still have nothing.

“They are not providing us any relief goods yet. The authorities are saying that they will prove if we are actually from Jacobabad first, then help us,” says Soomro. “Everything was washed away by the flood. I just took my children and two rallis (traditional Sindhi quilts) and left.”

Soomro is not the only one - many families are deprived of any provisions because they cannot prove they are IDPs. When the floodwater entered the kachcha areas of Jacobabad, the water was several feet high. “We could either save ourselves or our belongings,” they say.

The government’s decision to only give aid to those who have identity cards has aggravated their problems. “We couldn’t do anything. Everything was swept away, even our identification documents. We have no way of proving who we are and where we’re from,” says Muharram Ali Khoso, a resident of Thul in Hyderabad for refuge.

The 30 relief camps set up by Hyderabad’s district administration are inhabited by over 10,000 IDPs. Despite the administration’s announcement of starting the IDPs’ registration with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), the process is yet to begin. Therefore, the Divisional Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had to begin registrations on its own. “The reason behind the delay can better be explained by NADRA itself,” says Abid Saleem Qureshi, the DDMA’s district focal person. “However, all the people in our camps are being registered.”

The registration process has not started despite government directives to NADRA. When contacted, officials from the authority refused to comment on the issue.

The registration is necessary because the government needs to chart down who has received the relief goods and who has not, and who are ‘imposters’ claiming to be flood survivors just to get food and other items.

However, the delay in the registration will also hinder the IDPs’ rehabilitation process.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2010.

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