Pakistan: Security hinders assistance from reaching many IDPs


Geneva, December 16

Issued by Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan and Norwegian Church Aid


Since the start of December, immediately following the Eid holidays in Pakistan, terrorist attacks have occurred at various key locations in Pakistan. Most attacks targeted government or military areas, but markets and a mosque were also attacked. On December 1, a Member of Provincial Assembly and two of his brothers were killed in Peshawar when a suicide attack occurred near his home. Another suicide attack claimed the lives of a Naval personnel and police officer at the gate to Naval Headquarters in Islamabad. More than 100 people have died in recent attacks including those at a major market in Lahore, important government areas in Multan and Peshawar, and a mosque after Friday prayers in Rawalpindi. Hundreds more were injured during the attacks. The continuing terrorist attacks create widespread insecurity.

As humanitarian organizations wait for No Objection Certificates from the government to implement relief activities in DI Khan, Tank, and surrounding areas, the IDPs continue to face challenges of meeting basic food, health care and other needs. According to Colonel Imdad Hussain, in charge of Food Support Program, 59,355 families from South Waziristan have been registered out of which the National Database and Registration Authority completed verification of 36,787 families (The News, December 5). Based on average family size, this means more than 470,000 thousand individuals have been displaced. The majority of IDPs residing in DI Khan and surrounding areas remain with host families. With limited access to basic necessities for the population which normally resides in these areas, the huge influx of people makes basic necessities even scarcer. With limitations and delays in humanitarian organizations accessing these IDPs, the newly displaced and host families face extreme hardship, worsened by the winter season's cold temperatures.

As seen throughout the IDP crisis in Pakistan, female IDPs face additional hardship. For the female IDPs in DI Khan and surrounding areas, extreme difficulty particularly in accessing healthcare services creates concern. Recently, a shortage of female health workers was reported (IRIN, December 2). Female health workers, who want to assist the IDPs, are unable to mainly due to their families preventing them from going to DI Khan and surrounding areas due to security concerns. Winter temperatures and lack of basic food increase the need for healthcare services. Inaccessibility to food and health services needs to be addressed immediately in order to prevent severe illnesses and deaths. Women and children's situation worsens as many men have been returning to Waziristan in order to protect assets including homes and livestock. Unfamiliar surroundings and the practice of segregation will continue to prevent women from accessing aid and services; the limited provisions they have will not last long. The worsening security situation will exacerbate the problem and possibly inhibit many IDPs from receiving much needed aid in time.

ACT Members' Activities:

As both Church World Service - Pakistan/Afghanistan's and Norwegian Church Aid's relief activities for IDPs from Swat have reached the final stages, the two organizations continue efforts related to transition to recovery and rehabilitation for Swat IDPs as well as relief for IDPs displaced from Waziristan.