As if the internally displaced people of Swat, Orakzai and other war-battered areas in the country’s northwest weren’t enduring enough hardship, now UN projects that intended to aid them are themselves victims of the global financial recession.
A mere 20 per cent of the overall pledged funds have so far been received and many humanitarian projects on the ground may have to close down or become severely limited in their scope. Among those vulnerable are food aid programmes, and this is particularly troubling given that existing food supplies are estimated to last only till the end of this month.
The world is still in the throes of a recession and many donor countries are strapped for cash. To add to this, a significant percentage of the aid budgets of industrialised countries have been set aside for helping Haiti stand on its feet. And there is Pakistan’s own law and order issue which means that the UN is not exactly keen on deploying staff in places where the IDPs have sought refuge.
Interestingly, however, financial aid is still coming in by way of USAID, which is funding local projects on health education, road-building, water and power. This, though, cannot be a seen as a replacement for UN funds, or for that matter indigenous resources, which, sadly, are not forthcoming.
UN funding is multi-lateral and is not tied to any one country and hence is likely to come with less strings attached than, say, aid from Washington. It is for that very reason that in the short to medium-term Pakistan should request the UN to ensure that the pledged funding is delivered. Of course, the ideal solution would be to eliminate the militancy in the region, because if that were done, there would be no IDPs to begin with.