Pakistan: Help for people displaced by violence
28/06/2012 4:06:18 PM
Since January 2012, military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have seen widespread displacement of civilian populations. Thousands have been displaced from Pakistan’s conflict-hit Khyber Agency, near the border with Afghanistan, due to security operations and an escalation in sectarian violence.
Close to 150,000 families have been uprooted from their homes with little money and few resources and have fled to camps in Peshawar, Kohat and Nowsehra districts, in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Many who have fled are seeking the assistance of relatives and host families. One woman explained that she has chosen to live off-camp because she did not want to expose her five young daughters to thousands of unknown men. While others are still trying to register for relief assistance with UNHCR, issues of overcrowding and a high number of unaccompanied women and children are making this process difficult.
A rapid needs assessment was conducted by Act for Peace’s partner, Church World Service Pakistan-Afghanistan (CWS-P/A), in April, which identified a need to support off-camp displaced populations living in host communities. These families are in desperate need of food support and basic household items. Most families are living without cooking utensils, sanitary items, electricity, and enough water. Some also do not have adequate clothing and bedding. Because they are living without these essentials, spread of illness is quickly increasing especially among children, and few families are able to afford medical care.
Bus Khid Bibi, who fled from Bara district, has been living in a three-bedroom rented accommodation with 17 other family members since mid-2011. She explains that she and most other women usually skip their meals to allow the men and children of the house to eat more, even though this causes their own health to deteriorate. Another woman says that because of lack of water she can only bathe once a week, and her six children only two or three times per week.
Sabia a mother of six, worries about her children’s education. Her daughters had attended a public school before they were displaced. Now, few children attend school and because women are confined to their homes due to the cultural norm of privacy and pardah, they do not have the resources to entertain and console their children. She says, “Bara was our own place, with our people. Life was good and it went on. Here we know no one and no one knows us.”
With the financial support of Act for Peace and other ACT Alliance members, CWS-P/A has already been able to distribute more than 1,000 food packages, providing families with basic essentials including, wheat flour, rice, pulses, sugar oil, salt and tea. These packages have already benefitted 9,576 people in in Nowshera and Peshawar.
CWS-P/A plans to assist 16,800 people with two months’ worth of food assistance. Mosquito nets and storage containers, kitchen necessities and soap and other hygiene and sanitation items will also be provided, and as many as 24,000 people will be reached through mobile health units that will provide preventative and curative health services, laboratory testing and dedicated support to those who need it most.
For more information on Act for Peace’s work in Pakistan, please click here.