Number of IDPs may reach 600,000: Baloch

June 25, 2014


BANNU: Internally displaced persons from North Waziristan Agency block a road during a protest against mismanagement in ration distribution here on Tuesday.—Abdul Majeed Goraya / White Star
BANNU: Internally displaced persons from North Waziristan Agency block a road during a protest against mismanagement in ration distribution here on Tuesday.—Abdul Majeed Goraya / White Star

ISLAMABAD: The government officially announced on Tuesday that 450,681 internally displaced persons (IDPs) had been registered so far and that the number could reach to 600,000 as the military operation progressed in North Waziristan.

Claiming that the government was fully prepared to look after the IDPs, Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadri Baloch said the government had so far released Rs1.5 billion for disbursement among 36,392 registered families.

The minister appealed to the general public to make generous donation for the affected people and said that the army had set up 33 points for collection of donation across the country. “It is the national duty of every Pakistani, particularly people with means to open up their pockets for the brethren in need.”

Initially, the government is paying Rs12,000 to family besides ration and other necessary items.

Giving details of registration, the minister said that from June 18 till June 23 the government had registered 450,681 persons out of whom 118,753 were men, 142,113 women and 189,815 children.

Mr Baloch, who is the focal person on matters relating to settlement of the IDPs, said since it was the initial phase the government was in the process of assessing needs of displaced families. “Every reasonable need of the IDPs will be taken care of in the best possible manner and money is not an issue,” he added.

Over 400,000 displaced persons have so far registered with the government

  Federal Minister SAFRON Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadri Baloch
Federal Minister SAFRON Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadri Baloch

According to the minister, of the 36,392 displaced families only 200 were in the camps set up by the government and the others were living with relatives. And some have rented places for which the government is releasing another Rs3,000 per family.

About reports of lack of coordination with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in handling the IDPs issue, the minister said the commissioner of Bannu district was the focal person from the provincial government and he had absolutely no problem with him. “We have a perfect working relationship.”

Related: IDPs protest food shortage in Bannu

Since the government launched the military operation in North Waziristan, PTI chief Imran Khan had more than once accused the federal government of keeping the KP government out of the loop, particularly on preparing for handling the IDP issue.

On the PTI chief’s demand for allocation of Rs6 billion for the IDPs, the federal minister said “if need be the government will release Rs12 billion for the welfare of our brave people of North Waziristan who are offering supreme sacrifices so that we can live peacefully in rest of the country.”

On a question about reported ban imposed by the Sindh and Balochistan governments on the entry of IDPs in the two provinces, Mr Baloch clarified that under the Constitution a Pakistani could go to wherever he/she liked. However, he said he was not aware of any such orders issued by the two provincial governments.

When asked how much time the government was expected take to complete the military operation in North Waziristan, the minister refused to give a timeline and said the operation would be completed as quickly as possible. He said the IDPs were being registered through the Nadra database which would ensure a transparent mechanism for payments.

Also read: A homeless world

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was given the task of ensuring supply of tents and other non-food items to IDPs. The NDMA has released 2,000 tents which have been placed at the disposal of Fata Disaster Management Authority.

He said his ministry had set up a control room to coordinate with the Crisis Communication Cell for IDPs of Press Information Department. The control room is being updated daily with information provided by the commissioner of Bannu.

With the support of World Food Programme (WFP), family food baskets have been distributed among IDPs at the Bannu’s sports complex. Curfew was relaxed for another day to let maximum people leave the area of operation. The WFP has provided 15,000 food baskets and has another 45,000 which will be distributed on demand.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presided over a meeting on the IDP issue at the Prime Minister’s Office which was attended by Mr Baloch, Minister for Information Senator Pervaiz Rashid, KP Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan and directors general of Military Operations and Inter-Services Public Relations.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2014