KARACHI: Internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the North Waziristan Agency, where an army operation is under way, have begun reaching here as more than 5,000 IDPs have already been registered in Karachi and their children are being vaccinated against polio, officials said on Wednesday.
Officials in the provincial government said Azra Fazal Pechuho, a member of the National Assembly and head of Sindh’s polio eradication cell, led a five-member delegation to discuss with Karachi police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo the preparedness of law-enforcers to provide security to polio teams during the vaccination drives planned in view of the looming polio threat in the wake of the influx of people from the country’s worst polio-affected areas, as six polio cases confirmed in Sindh belonged to the people from the federally administered tribal agencies.
Representatives of the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organisation and the Chief Minister Monitoring Cell for Health attended the meeting.
Officials said some 5,552 IDPs had already reached Karachi and their validation was in process.
Keeping in view the migration of large populations from the area, the officials said they expected that more IDPs would arrive in the city and there was a risk of outbreaks of polio as since June 2012 North Waziristan’s children had missed out on polio vaccinations.
As most Pakhtun people prefer Karachi West district to settle, the authorities have decided to focus more on it, where five of the six confirmed polio cases had been reported.
They decided not to halt polio campaigns during Ramazan against the past practice in the light of the looming challenge.
“Additional vaccinations are imperative at the provincial transit points to avert significant risk of intensive poliovirus outbreak because of an increasing number of migrants,” said an official who attended the meeting.
He said the first four-day polio campaign had been planned to begin on July 5 and another from Aug 16 to 19. Besides, he added, several small-scale drives would be launched in between.
The city police chief said 300 security personnel dedicated for polio campaigns would be in place from July 5 till the end of December.
Officials said police were there to assist the district administrations in the city in identification and mapping of areas in Karachi where IDPs had settled.
All the police stations had been told to keep a watch on the arrival of IDPs in their respective areas and register them at the earliest.
“We have enhanced the intelligence network while instructions have been issued to the relevant officials to watch new arrivals and gather their particulars as they get sight of them,” said a senior police officer.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2014