Dawn News

PESHAWAR, Aug 1: In the backdrop of a World Food Programme warning to slash food rations for Fata IDPs, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has requested the centre to urgently release 200,000 metric tons of wheat to the UN body to enable it to continue relief operations.

The request was sent to the federal government after UN agency owing to funding constraints had already cut down food handouts for the IDPs in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, official sources said.

The sources said the WFP was likely to further reduce quantity of food rations to IDPs and also slow down other activities in Pakistan if international community did not provide donations for Pakistan programme.

The agency says it immediately needs about $70 million for distribution of food and other activities by October next.

In a letter sent to federal secretary ministry of food security and research, the provincial chief secretary Ghulam Dastgir said due to financial crisis, the UN agency had cut down food handouts to IDPs.

“It is planned to give half ration/food basket to IDPs during September-October, 2012, while during November-December, there will no cereal/wheat flour in the food basket, which is the main staple commodity of the IDPs daily food consumption,” the letter said.

In addition, the chief secretary said: “This stoppage will have very serious political, humanitarian and law and order ramifications for the province, besides putting at risk the hard earned stability in tribal agencies where peace is restored at a great cost.”

Officials said the UN agency had been distributing food rations among 200,000 verified displaced families dislocated from Fata.

Around 20,000 families have been living in camps. Displaced people returning to their homes are also getting food rations for six months.

A senior official dealing with relief operations warned of humanitarian crises if federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments did not take the matter seriously. “These IDPs require food assistance worth Rs10 billion for the period between August 2012 and May 2013,” he said, adding that these IDPs had no chance to return to their homes.

Sources said the provincial government had also reminded Letter of Intent signed between the UN agency and the ministry concerned in March 2012 under which federal government had made commitment to provide 500,000 tons of wheat while the UN body would pool $1 billion to continue distribution of food rations and other activities in Pakistan for next three years.

The letter asked the centre to release 200,000 metric tons of wheat to the WFP to enable the agency to continue operations in the province whereas finance ministry had already earmarked funds for allocation of 50,000 metric tons of wheat to the agency.

The WFP has around seven million beneficiaries in Pakistan and majority of them are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan.

The chief secretary said besides hit by militancy, these tribal agencies were also most food insecure areas in the country and suspension of food distribution and complimentary programmes like school feeding and nutrition interventions would have a huge negative impact to the overall efforts of building lasting peace in the region.

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