Displaced people continue to pour out from the areas of fighting in our northern areas. Most recently, they have been fleeing the Orakzai and Kurram agencies — where warfare has intensified. During a press conference a few days ago in Islamabad, UN officials warned they had received only a fraction of the funding they needed to care for displaced persons. Since then, other agencies, including Unicef, have also issued press releases that speak rather ominously of the possibility of having to wind up their IDP schools if more money does not arrive. The organisation says it had received only six per cent of the funding it had requested and at present lacks resources to run schools at most of the 11 camps in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa.
There are also other kinds of dangers for IDPs. Having fled violence at home, they face attacks in the camps — with at least 42 dying in the April 18th bombings at the Kacha Pakha Camp in Kohat. According to reports coming in from the north, the attack has created an immense sense of fear among hapless people who lack protection of any kind. Most, quite literally, have no roof over their heads – and have been forced into flimsy tents or what meagre shelter can be offered up by host families. It is shameful that so much suffering has been imposed on persons who can in no way be held responsible for the conflict or rise of the Taliban. Many have indeed suffered for months or years and seek, more than anything else, a return to peace and to normal life. Our government, along with major humanitarian agencies, must assess how this can most effectively be offered up to them and what measures can be taken to ensure the limited assistance they are now receiving can be sustained.