North Waziristan crisis – Islamic Relief Pakistan ready to respond
Over half a million people have fled North Waziristan following military action in the area. Thousands of families fled with what few possessions they could carry and are now displaced, without food, water or shelter.
In an interview with Australia’s SBS World News Radio, Islamic Relief Pakistan’s Haseeb Khalid talked of the difficulties internally displaced people (IDPs) are facing.
He described how residents in North Waziristan were given notice to leave their homes, and local authorities established camps of makeshift tents for them, but only about 30 families – around 420 individuals – took refuge there. People in the region are not accustomed to being displaced, and the conditions in the camps are extremely difficult, with very few basic facilities.
Instead, they have chosen to flee to areas like Banu and Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), living with host families. Although the local authorities initially provided transportation, with such a huge volume of people, it was impossible to provide for everyone. Most hired their own vehicles or left on foot, with many being on the move for three to four days, with only the few basic possessions they were able to carry.
However, living conditions in these areas are still harsh, lacking facilities like electricity, clean drinking water and access to food. As in almost every emergency situation, it is women, children and the elderly who are suffering most. Families are leaving the cool regions they are accustomed to and seeking refuge in much hotter areas, and with temperatures reaching 48 degrees Celsius. Many IDPs are devoutly observing Ramadan, with the new climate and lack of basic necessities making the long days of fasting more difficult than usual.
“We need to trigger humanitarian assistance,” said Haseeb. “Islamic Relief Pakistan is monitoring the situation closely and our Emergency Response Team is in the field. We are planning to provide initial support in the form of food packs, as well as requesting local authority permission to set up health camps, using basic health units to treat patients with medical problems.
“Every day, the situation is going from bad to worse.”
As well as food and healthcare, Islamic Relief Pakistan is also planning to construct latrines and repair existing water sources in the regions where IDPs are settling. They will supplyhygiene kits and kitchen cooking sets, as well as providing psychosocial support to those struggling to adjust to the shock of leaving everything they had known behind.