PESHAWAR, June 8: Although the military commander of the area has denied any immediate plan to launch an operation against militants in North Waziristan, civil departments and United Nations agencies are preparing for an influx of displaced persons from the area.
“It has been decided to establish a big camp in Domail area of Bannu district that can accommodate 265,000 persons from North Waziristan Agency,” officials of UN agencies told Dawn here.
They said a contingency plan was chalked out after a meeting of Provincial Disaster Management Authority, World Health Organisation, Unicef, World Food Programme, UNFPA, UNHCR and representatives of health and other line departments of Federally Administered Tribal Areas was updated about the situation two days ago.
The officials said that total population of North Waziristan Agency was 351,246, according to the last census conducted in 1998. Plans would be made to establish more camps in the nearby districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to cope with mass exodus in the event of military action, they added.
“We didn't receive any instructions from government to make immediate arrangements but indications show that government will ultimately go for military operation against militants in North Waziristan,” a senior UN official said.
Efforts were afoot to identify more sites for establishment of camps, he said, adding that extreme caution was being taken to set up camps in relatively peaceful area in view of the danger of terrorism.
He said that about 158,000 displaced families were living with their relatives in Dera Ismail Khan and 55,000 in Tank for the last one year owing to military operation in South Waziristan Agency.
“The displaced persons are living in pathetic condition there but camps could not be established owing to lack of security clearance from the agencies concerned,” he said.
An Islamabad-based official of WHO told this correspondent that they had already completed assessment of health facilities in Bannu. “We have sent medicines and other items to Bannu and more supplies will be sent when the operation starts,” he said. Other UN agencies have also presented their plans to government.
The officials said that WHO was also in contact with health departments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata to know about the strength of their staff in Bannu and provide them with manpower in case of deficiency.
“We have also planned to train health staff in Bannu so that they can perform duties in the camp. The staff requires to be imparted training in dealing with medical emergencies,” they said.
Other UN agencies, including Unicef, WFP, UNHCR and UNFPA had also started preparations to cope with problem of displacement, they said.
They said that government had already hinted at vacating Jalozai camp, which housed 15,000 families from Mohmand, Bajaur and Khyber agencies. The Jalozai camp would be vacated by mid June and its dwellers would be shifted to camps in their native areas, they said.
“There is no solid information about launching of offensive against Taliban but government has asked us to prepare contingency plan for the operation,” UN officials said.