Pakistan

International Donor mission observes the resilience of the returnees of Bara

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Mr. Neil Buhne, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan, and humanitarian donors representing Canada and Sweden respectively, visited return areas in Bara, Khyber Agency, on 18 February, 2016. The objective of the visit was to observe the delivery of humanitarian assistance to returnees and meet officials and implementing partners of the Pakistan Humanitarian Pooled Fund (PHPF) in order to identify any gaps in assistance which can be bridged with donor support.

Representatives of the FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) also accompanied the mission and shared the critical needs of the women, children and other vulnerable groups of Bara with the Humanitarian Coordinator.

The Government and the humanitarian community have facilitated and supported the return of 74,208 families to their areas of origin in Khyber Agency, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), since 31 March 2015. With generous support from the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom, the Pakistan Humanitarian Pooled Fund (PHPF), managed by Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has recently released US $5 million to implement various projects to support these families as they re-settle into their areas of origin.

At the onset of the mission, the team visited a hub in Malak Din Khel where distributions of a 6-month food package per family are ongoing to 10,000 families. A large number of returning families are dependent on these rations as they have not yet been able to reestablish a regular means of livelihood. Some returnees are employed under various cash for work programs. The mission witnessed one such program at the livelihood assets recovery project in the Miri Khel village of Aka Khel, where recent returnees were working on reconstruction of the minor irrigation channels and canals to restore water for agricultural activities to their villages.

The donors, accompanied by Mr. Buhne, also visited an education project in Nogazi Baba, where local NGO partners are providing necessary supplies and learning materials such as blackboards, school bags, school tents and stationary to ensure that the returning population has access to safe, well equipped, and quality learning opportunities. The education project caters to 5300 returnee children between the ages of 3 and 18, with 50 per cent of the children being female. The Humanitarian Coordinator remarked that he was especially impressed by the enthusiasm for learning in the temporary school for girls the mission visited.

In Kalanga, where a PHPF funded project is providing roofing kits and materials for the construction of 250 homes for vulnerable returnees of the Aka Khel tribe, the mission had the opportunity to explore one of the recently constructed dwellings. Some homes constructed for extremely vulnerable returnees, such as widows, have been fitted with solar panels in the roof to ensure that the utility costs for the occupant are minimal.

Following the field visits, Mr. Kaseem Kakar, the Additional Political Agent (PA) Khyber Agency, briefed the visiting mission on ongoing Government and humanitarian projects in Bara. Mr. Kakar acknowledged the support provided by the international community, and highlighted the current gaps in assistance asssessed by the Government. The Additional PA assured the complete cooperation of the government authorities in future relief activities and humanitarian interventions in Bara.

Mr. Buhne highlighted the courage of the people of Khyber Agency, and applauded their determination to return to a life of normalcy. “Bara is an example of what a successful partnership between local government agencies, humanitarian actors and the international donor community can accomplish in assisting people to return home,” said Mr. Buhne at the conclusion of the mission. “The mission demonstrated to me how important such work is and the need to continue to support people in rebuilding their lives and their communities.” He also emphasized the large and crucial role the Government of Pakistan and the military continue to play in providing services to the returning population, facilitating access for humanitarian partners and restoring the rule of law in the region.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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