Uneasy situation: Death at Jalozai Camp spreads fear among IDPs

Many blame security officials, who will now be given better training.

Asad Zia August 12, 2012


The recent death of an internally displaced person (IDP) in Khyber Agency has created deep insecurity amongst IDPs in the area.

The tragic incident has affected the overall operation of the Jalozai Camp for IDPs. Some relief organisations have suspended their activities in the camp, where basic necessities were already hardly available in Ramazan.

A young man was killed on August 8 during the chaotic distribution of hygiene kits from a UNICEF distribution point. IDPs fear that the man was killed by security guards of the camp. “The death has gripped us and we are afraid to say anything to the camp incharge,” an IDP said.

The Khyber Union office-bearer and former agency councillor, Suhbat Khan Afridi, said that the camp lacked sufficient organisation. There was only one distribution point for goods allocated in the whole camp, which was not sufficient to distribute to all IDPs at the camp which numbered in thousands. Suhbat held camp officials responsible for the death of the young man, Aslam Gul, and the injuries of two others, Sofia Bibi and Niayagula Bibi.

Eyewitnesses claim that camp security guards began firing while trying to control an unruly crowd at the Jalozai Camp distribution point. They complained that the behaviour of camp security was unjustified. “They always have a stick in their hands and beat us like animal,” an IDP at the camp said.

Camp incharge Noor Akbar Afridi said that in that incident, the crowd had become disorderly and started to pelt stones at the distribution outlet. He said that it was premature to say who started firing as the matter was being investigated. Noor said that legal action would be taken against those found guilty.

Camp security leader, Ihtisham Khan, denied allegations of IDPs and said that security personnel were not allowed to bring weapons into the camp, they only  use sticks to control the people during the rush time. He said that NGOs do not have proper rules for distributing their goods.  He said they invite all people at the camp together which makes it hard for security officials to control the situation.

An official in the camp, on the condition of anonymity, said: “Security personnel do not carry weapons openly but hide them inside their uniforms.”

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) also met with a delegation of international relief organisations to discuss the situation at Jalozai Camp. PDMA spokesperson Adnan Khan told The Express Tribune that after the incident, NGOs had stopped working in the camp.

It was also decided in the meeting that relief work would continue and training would be given to security personnel on how to deal with IDPs in the camp.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.


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