IDPs and the challenges that await
The News, May 12, 2009
by Mosharraf Zaidi
At the end of January this year, the international community’s key humanitarian agencies had done some basic number crunching for how they would deal with the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) crisis that was brewing in Pakistan towards the end of 2008. They estimated that the armed conflict in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies would likely drive the numbers of these Pakistanis who are refugees in their own country to about 600,000. To cater to those folks, it was estimated that roughly $36 million would be required to provide for the shelter, water and sanitation, food, and basic health care and schooling needs of the IDPs.
As I write these words, and the long overdue military operation to eliminate terrorists from Swat, Buner and Dir scorches more and more of the earth, that original estimate of 600,000 is exploding into ever larger numbers. Some civil society groups feel that the Swat-Buner-Dir IDPs alone will account for over a million people. The multilaterals and international agencies are slightly more conservative, with off-the-record numbers being cited in the range of 750,000 to 850,000.
Adding the new wave of Pakistanis who’ve been made refugees in their own country to the ones already displaced from Bajaur, Mohmand, Orakzai and other FATA agencies (around 560,000) places the total number of IDPs for 2009 at roughly 1.3 million. And it is only May 12.
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Internally Displaced People in Pakistan
Malakand's Refugees - Zafar Hillaly