In light of the ongoing peace negotiations with the Taliban and recent aerial strikes on suspected militant hideouts in North Waziristan, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government is reviewing the preparations of federal and provincial disaster management authorities.
Official sources told The Express Tribune on Thursday that the review was meant to ensure every possible arrangement in case the talks fail and internally displaced persons (IDP) start moving into the settled areas, away from the conflict zone.
According to official sources, K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak called a meeting with the FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) officials to discuss possible arrangements for displaced people, including accommodation, food, security and other basic amenities.
The officials said in case the peace talks fail and the government goes for a full-scale military operation, the displaced persons will be accommodated in Bannu and DI Khan, adding the provincial government wants to be fully prepared for that scenario.
“I am not saying that the government has decided to launch an operation, but we are supposed to be prepared for all types of emergency situations,” the officials said, adding FDMA and PDMA had been accommodating displaced persons before and are ready to do so again if needed.
FDMA officials said the provincial government needs to clarify who will lead the post-conflict situation with regards to the IDPs as the provincial government had been leading it in the past. But later when a court took notice of shortage of basic amenities at Jalozai Camp in Nowshera, FDMA and PDMA were asked to ensure arrangements at the camp.
When contacted, FDMA Director General Arshad Khan said they have not received any indication on any military offensive from the federal government but since they are meant to deal with emergency situations, they are ready to accommodate and facilitate displaced persons on an emergency basis.
According to UNHCR, as of December 2013, there are 22,076 IDPs from Khyber Agency at the Jalozai Camp, 5,375 IDPs from Orakzai Agency and 446 from Kurram Agency at Togh Sarai Camp in Hangu, and 12,616 from Kurram Agency and 2,362 from Khyber Agency at the New Durrani Camp in Sadda. Moreover, the number of IDPs living outside the official camps is stated to be 704,623. These displaced persons belong to Kurram, Khyber, South Waziristan and Orakzai agencies and FR Tank.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2014.
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