Tag Archives: IDPs
Thousands of families in Helmand have been forced to abandon their homes due to the ongoing conflict and war in the area.
These internally displaced people (IDPs) have since been living in abject conditions as a result of leaving behind their homes, livestock, farms and belongings.
Most of these families move to Lashkargah, the capital, to live in temporary camps. Some stay with relatives, others search for shelter in neighbouring districts, while some continue their painful journey to Kandahar or move as far as Kabul.
Gul Mohammad, who has been forced to abandon his home and village in Helmand’s Nadali district for the fifth time in less than a year, told UNAMA that life hasn’t changed for his family even after several clean-up operations. He regrets that each time the government promises to bring security, it fails to do so.
“The government and NATO forces started fresh offensives in Nadali and Marja. We are forced to leave our homes to safeguard our families. More than 200 families left Nadali and are currently living in Lashkargah. Some are staying with their relatives and some others have rented houses which they can’t afford for too long. They don’t have food, tents and heating material. Neither the government nor aid agencies have provided any assistance to us as yet,” he said.
1. “We are sick of operations in our area every day. We leave our homes. Our children have no future and those who can’t move are stranded due to IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and blocked roads. People are trying to move to safer areas in order to protect themselves. We appeal to the government and NATO forces to… provide us (with) security and better living conditions,” said Ahmad Wali, an IDP from Marja district, who currently lives in a rented house in Lashkargah.
The head of the government’s refugees and returnees department for Helmand, Ghulam Farooq Noorzai, admits a large number of families are coming to Lashkargah from the districts of Marja and Nadali.
“We are in contact with UN agencies and have shared our concerns with them,” said Mr Noorzai. “The UN has promised to release assistance to the new IDPs from Nadali and Marja,” he added.
According to him, the United Nations has provided assistance to over 8,000 IDP families in Helmand province in the last six months.
Lucio Milardo, head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Kandahar, says the UN is helping the IDPs to build food capacity.
“First, the United Nations is providing humanitarian assistance to the IDPs based on their needs. Second, the humanitarian assistance from the UN agencies should not be aligned with military. Our aim is only to assist people in need and has nothing to do with the military,” he said.
“We are glad that UN agencies are helping the IDPs who have been forced to leave their homes and villages due to military operations. We have a good coordination mechanism in place with all UN agencies, including UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, UNAMA and others and we really appreciate their assistance”, said Mr Noorzai.
Mr Noorzai expects a fresh influx of IDPs from Nadali district, after the recent announcement by the military to launch fresh offensives. He, however, said they are prepared to meet the requirements of up to 15,000 IDPs with the assistance of UN agencies.
The United Nations is up to the task and as part of the UN’s Interagency Contingency Plan for natural and man-made disasters, the UN has pre-positioned sufficient food and non-food items at the provincial level.
United Nations agencies in the regions have always played a vital role in providing assistance to IDPs in Helmand and other provinces.
In 2009 alone, UN agencies assisted more than 30,000 families in the south with humanitarian aid – almost double when compared to 2008 – as displacement continued from areas most affected by the conflict.
By Mujeeb Rahman, UNAMA
Source: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Date: 03 Jul 2009 GENEVA, 3 July 2009
UNICEF is deeply concerned about the condition of thousands of children who have been displaced by conflict, or who remain in affected areas, in north-western Pakistan.
Nearly 50 per cent of the estimated 2 million displaced are children, many of whom are in urgent need of health and educational services, nutritional support, access to clean water and sanitation as well as protection. Their situation has been compounded by the harsh summer temperatures.
UNICEF is especially concerned that some 700,000 children are due to start the new school year in September in 3,700 schools that are currently occupied by 150,000 IDPs. If these schools are not vacated and rehabilitated soon, the education of all these children will be interrupted. Some of these children could even drop out of the education system permanently.
The speed and magnitude of the crisis has stretched the capacity of the government, host communities and humanitarian actors to the limit. Though fighting is reported to have subsided in Swat and Buner, IDPs continue to seek refuge in camps and communities in northern parts of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and new displacements are being recorded into southern parts of the province due to military operations in South Waziristan.
“In Pakistan we face a unique humanitarian challenge, since the vast majority of the displaced are seeking shelter in host communities which are far more difficult to reach with basic services than in the camps,” said UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes, Louis-Georges Arsenault.
While basic needs are being met in camps, the situation is critical for the vast majority of IDPs living in host communities. In the thousands of school buildings that have been converted into IDP shelters and other spontaneous camps that have sprung up throughout parts of NWFP to cope with the influx of people from conflict-affected areas, children and families are living in cramped conditions with limited to negligible access to safe drinking water and sanitation – and are difficult to reach with basic hygiene materials and education to decrease the likelihood of water borne diseases.
At equal risk are host communities who are shouldering the burden with limited resources and fragile infrastructure in the aftermath of food prices spikes that took root in 2007. UNICEF is working closely with the government of Pakistan and other partners to provide services and information to displaced children and women.
To prevent the outbreak of diseases, over 200,000 children have been vaccinated against measles and 230,000 people receive safe drinking water and hygiene education in IDP camps and communities. To date, 47,400 children and 20,400 mothers have been screened for malnutrition, and the 11,000 moderately malnourished have received care within their own communities. While malnutrition rates are presently low, the vulnerability of the population requires sustained support to prevent the situation from deteriorating rapidly.
The Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan, revised in May to cope with new displacements caused by the military operations in Swat and Buner, has so far raised less than a third of the $543 million required to support 1.7 million IDPs for six months. As part of the Appeal, UNICEF requested $52 million. To date $22.5 million has been received from donors and is in hand –and another $9.3 million has been pledged. “Without sufficient funding, it will be impossible to ensure that thousands of children and families affected by the conflict have the services and support they require in the time of their greatest need. Equally important is support to the host communities who are struggling to cope with their new found burden,” said Arsenault.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.
In Pakistan and elsewhere, it has provided vital relief and reconstruction support to help individuals rebuild their lives after emergencies. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
Kathryn Grusovin, UNICEF Islamabad, Tel +92-300-5018542, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Sami Malik, UNICEF Islamabad, Tel +92-300-8556654, E-mail: email@example.com.
By: Matt Hackworth/CWS
MARDAN, Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan — Awalkhan has four spare rooms in his modest house, now a temporary hostel to 30 people.
“Because I had spare rooms, I host them,” Awalkhan said, sitting on the edge of a traditional rattan charpoy bed. “They have no other way.”
The people in Awalkhan’s home are like most in Pakistan who are displaced by the fighting between national army and Taliban forces. They left in a hurry, with little more than the clothes on their backs, and fled to the home of a relative or close friend.
United Nations figures document 1.7 million have fled escalating violence in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. That number is likely far below the total number of people affected because so many have found refuge in the homes of others.
“It could be as high as 90 percent of people who fled are unaccounted for, simply because they’re staying with a host family,” CWS Pakistan/Afghanistan Director Marvin Parvez. (Parvez is also the Asia/Pacific Regional Director for Church World Service.) “These are families who didn’t have much to begin with, and now they have the added strain of caring for others. They need our help.”
Just as CWS has provided food packages and blankets in the nearby Sheik Yasin Camp, where 9,000 displaced persons live in tents, the agency has also provided food and supplies to families who have opened their homes to people in need.
A local partner in Mardan, Movement for Rural Development Organization, helped CWS identify homes where needs are particularly strong.
“The people of this community are very poor,” MRDO Chairman Sawar Khan said. “They are completely dependent upon NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the public.”
Smaller villages ring the outskirts of Mardan, where locals in native colorful dress, called shalwar khamiz, seek shelter from the blistering heat inside homes made of thick mud plaster. Over a thick cup of local chai tea and pastries, village elder Mohammed Younas Khan describes how his community is handling such an influx of people.
“If someone has four rooms, they give two rooms to the people,” Khan said, stroking his white beard. “If they have one room, they share it. That’s how we’re handling it.
“But it’s our prayer to Allah that the people should be able to go home,” Khan said.
Pakistan’s army set a deadline of June 25 for its operations against the Taliban to conclude. The deadline passed and troops continue to fight.
One thing is clear in Mardan: Families remain just as scared of life under Taliban rule as they are of being caught in a military firefight. Women duck under headscarves at the sight of a still camera, for fear the Taliban might see their photo, in violation of the Islamic laws of Sharia.
So, families remain in Mardan, caught between harsh justice and military might, far from home. For Awalkhan, the uncertainty facing the 30 people in his home produces at least one bit of clarity.
“I will continue to host them because this is my duty,” he said.
How to help
Church World Service is helping to provide food, shelter and medical care for displaced children and families in Pakistan. Contributions to support Church World Service emergency response and recovery efforts may be made online, by phone (800.297.1516), or sent to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676 firstname.lastname@example.org
NAIROBI, 19 June 2009 (IRIN) – Ever-worsening security in Somalia is prompting large numbers of civilians to flee into Kenya, where facilities to host them are stretched to bursting point, raising fears of a major refugee crisis.
Dadaab in eastern Kenya, is home to an estimated 279,000 mainly Somali refugees – triple its designated capacity. Its Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo camps together comprise the largest refugee site in the world.
Kenya’s closure of its Somali border in January 2007 did little to stem the tide. “On average, about 7,000 Somali refugees are coming into the country every month this year,” Kellie Leeson, International Rescue Committee (IRC) country director for Kenya, told IRIN.
“We need more land for Dadaab to spread the camp out so that people can live in dignity,” she said. The UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR) is talking with the Kenyan government in an effort to obtain more land.
IRC is providing healthcare services in Dadaab as well as water and sanitation services in Kakuma camp, northwestern Kenya.
“The high [refugee] population has made it extremely challenging to deliver services,” Leeson said. “Water has been a really big challenge as well as provision of adequate latrines.”
“The overcrowding [in Dadaab] means that international standards for basic services are not being met,” according to Refugees International.
“There is a shortfall of 36,000 latrines and 50 percent of the refugees have access to less than 13 litres of water per day,” the NGO said in recent special report on Somali refugees.
The agency went on to appeal for the reopening of a reception centre for Somali refugees shut by the Kenyan authorities in May 2008. “This will ensure an orderly and humane screening and registration process, while having the added benefit for the Kenyan government of reducing cross-border security threats.”
On this point Leeson said: “Health screening at a border reception centre is needed in order to prevent the spread of disease inside the congested camps.”
In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that Kenya was in the midst of a rapidly escalating refugee crisis.
Between August 2008 and the end of February 2009, “just over 35,000 new arrivals [in Dadaab] received no shelter and have been forced to sleep under open skies in makeshift shelters that provide little protection from the harsh weather, or in cramped confines with relatives or strangers who were already living in conditions well below minimum humanitarian standards,” HRW said.
Relations with the surrounding Kenyan population have also at times soured. “The host community is struggling especially with the high food prices and drought,” Leeson said. IRC, along with UNHCR, and other partners, is working with local community leaders in an effort to prevent conflict in Dadaab and Kakuma.
The local community neighbouring Dadaab has in the past resisted the expansion of the camp boundaries, saying it is already encroaching on their land.
In Kakuma, most of the refugees are of Somali origin, coming either via Dadaab or Nairobi. Its population has almost halved since 2006 due to the large scale repatriation of its Sudanese population in the wake of a 2005 peace accord.
“Now there are about 42,000 refugees remaining in the camp, who can’t yet return home, and are fully dependent on [external support],” she said.
“A lot of people thought Kakuma would just go [away],” she said, “But the numbers of refugees are still high and we must meet their urgent needs.”
A statement by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) said: “Ten percent of the refugees in Kakuma have lived in the camp for over 10 years, some longer than 15 with no perspective and no hope of a durable solution. This causes dependency and problems with the local community.”
According to JRS, societies and governments tend to perceive refugees as a problem. “But, we need to see that behind the large numbers are human beings like you and me. They have been uprooted from their countries by conflict, persecution or violence,” said Frido Pflueger, JRS/Eastern Africa director.
IRC’s Leeson urged the Kenyan government to also fully implement its own Refugees’ Act of 2006. “On paper, the act gives rights to refugees, but in practice it is not yet fully enforced and many people in positions of authority aren’t aware of its content or the rights it confers,” she said. “We also urgently need extended funds as the [refugee] population continues to grow,” she said.
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Date: 12 May 2009
Pakistan needs international help to cope with the hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing the fighting between government and Taliban forces in northwest Pakistan, ActionAid said today.
Fikre Zewdie, director of ActionAid Pakistan said: “More than 800,000 people could soon be living in camps or waiting for places in them. People urgently need food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care. The fighting could continue for a longer period, so they will not be going home soon. Pakistan cannot handle a crisis on this scale without international help.”
ActionAid staff are now in the field assessing the situation so that ActionAid can respond appropriately and effectively to help those in need. The exodus began when government forces began operations against the Taliban in Swat and neighbouring districts last week. The temporary lifting of a curfew on Sunday 10 May allowed many more people to leave.
About 360,000 displaced people have now registered with the authorities, in camps or other locations, in Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda and Kohat districts. But many more are waiting to register or still on the move. Authorities in Mardan estimate that altogether 600,000 to 800,000 people have been displaced by the latest fighting. The majority are expected to find rented accommodation or stay with relatives. But accommodation in the towns is becoming scarce. Aid agencies estimate that 300,000 will come to the camps, where 560,000 are already living because of earlier fighting in tribal areas. This could swell the camp population to more than 800,000.
People are queuing in very hot weather for tents or shelters, often fruitlessly. Water, medicine and sanitation facilities are very scarce and people are becoming increasingly agitated. The registration process requires identity documents, but some people left home too hurriedly to bring these with them and many, particularly women, do not have ID cards in the first place. —ENDS—
For more information, or to interview ActionAid staff in the field, contact Tony Durham, +44 (0)20 7561 7636, mobile 07872 378251