PESHAWAR: The United Nations agencies and its partners will assume a bigger role in days ahead to cater to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) of North Waziristan Agency, sources said.
They said that the UN agencies had agreed in principle to provide basic facilities to the newly arrived IDPs if international norms and guidelines were followed. Under these norms, rights of IDPs will be protected. Right to personal safety, food, shelter, education and access to work offers vital protection during such displacements.
The government has agreed to expand the scope of humanitarian agencies to IDPs. In this regard, a meeting of the stakeholders was held in Peshawar on Saturday which was presided over by Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan.
Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) director general Tahir Orakzai was appointed focal person of the coordination committee. Officials said that approximately 500,000 IDPs from North Waziristan Agency had settled in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and now PDMA with the assistance of UN agencies would look after the displaced people.
PDMA to look after displaced people with UN agencies’ assistance
The Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) said that the number of IDPs had reduced from one million to 500,000 after verification by the National Database and Registration Authority. Tribal people had fled homes after the Pakistan Army launched operation against militants in North Waziristan Agency on June 18. Civil Secretariat, Fata, has put staff of the line departments in North Waziristan, including education and health, at the disposal of the administration of the IDPs hosting districts, particularly in Bannu. The Bannu district having one million people has been overburdened with the arrival of the huge influx of IDPs.
An official source said that the UN agencies and its partners would intervene to provide assistance in health, education, drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition. He said that the government could not fulfil needs and requirements of the IDPs without engaging the UN bodies.
“Malnutrition among children is a major issue and the UN has the capacity and resources to fulfil nutrition requirements of children, especially new born babies,” the official said.
The government, he said, would also provide access to partners of the UN, including international and national NGOs, to work in the IDPs hosting areas.
The federal and provincial governments were adamant to seek help from the UN, international and national NGOs. Initially, only the World Food Programme was invited to start relief activities. Later, the Federal Ministry of State and Frontier Region formally requested the UN coordinator in Islamabad to help IDPs.
The officials said that the plan about establishing two new camps for IDPs was dropped following a survey report which revealed that majority of the displaced families had refused to stay in tents. The chief secretary had directed the relevant authorities to seek opinion of IDPs residing in government schools over whether they wanted to stay in camp or in rented houses. They said that over 90 per cent of IDPs had decided to vacate schools and to be shifted to rented houses before end of the summer vacations. Schools are scheduled to open on Sept 1.
The government has decided to pay Rs12,000 per household for renting house and fulfilling other requirements. The officials said that camp in Frontier Region Bakakhel, adjacent to North Waziristan Agency, was intact and IDPs who could not afford the cost would be settled there.
Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2014