40,000 displaced by violence in Khyber Agency

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Children playing in Jalozai IDP camp in Nowshera District. © NRC/Shahzad Ahmad

NRC Pakistan/Shahzad Ahmad (27.03.2013)

New waves of violence in the Tirah Valley have displaced more than 40,000 people according to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) Disaster Management Agency (FDMA). The intensification of violence between non-state-armed-groups has forced thousands, mostly women and children, to flee the area of Khyber Agency to safer grounds in Peshawar, Kohat, and towards the camps of New Durrani in Kurram Agency and Jalozai camp in Nowshera District.

The displacement of people living in the Tirah Valley started many weeks ago and has accelerated in the last week. Many families have walked for hours without any access to basic services, such as shelter and water, before reaching transit points where transportation was offered by the local government. “It was the toughest journey of our life, as the road was muddy after heavy rains. My children also got sick due to cold weather” said Hussain Shah, 26 year old, together with his four children and wife.

“People have suffered tremendously, escaping the violence and struggling for their lives. Most of them left their homes and their livelihood behind without being able to bring any belongings but the bear minimum to sustain the journey out of the valley” said Saeed Ullah Khan, Country Director of NRC in Pakistan.

NRC, in collaboration with local authorities and in coordination with UN agencies, has already started to assist the Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) with the distribution of kits that are specially designed to meet their immediate needs, containing such items as sleeping mats, cooking tools, jerry cans. “I was working as daily laborer and living very peaceful life and suddenly everything changed. When we fled, we left everything behind and was only able to take a few clothes” added Hussain Shah.

NRC is closely monitoring the arrival of new families from the Tirah Valley and assisting the people who are most in need of assistance and protection, especially women head of household with small children. “We are carrying out door-to-door assessments in the host communities where most of IDP decide to settle while the full registration by the government and the UN takes place” added Mr. Khan. As Hussain Shah explains “I feel as a burden to the host family we are living with, as they had already been displaced since last year.” Many other families are in same situation and are yet to receive some assistance.

Since 2008, more than 163,000 registered families and thousands more that are un-registered have been forced to flee the conflict and violence in FATA mostly heading to Peshawar and Kohat districts. The majority of the IDPs live in host communities with relatives and rented accommodation. The lack of livelihood and economic opportunities make them vulnerable and unable to earn a living and meet basic needs. Assistance from the government and the humanitarian community especially in form of food assistance and shelter are crucial.