Status of internally displaced persons in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province
Statement by Ms. Sitara Ayaz, Minister for Social Welfare and Women Development, Geneva, 28 April 2009


Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to express my gratitude to OCHA and also to Mr. Rashid Khalikov and Mr. Kasidis Rochanakorn for holding this briefing on the humanitarian situation in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan.

Pakistan is paying a heavy price for its role as the frontline state in the so called war on terror. Our areas bordering Afghanistan have been infiltrated with extremist militant elements. In August 2008, the Government launched a renewed initiative against these militants in several of the areas, including Malakand, Bajaur and Swat, which is ongoing. We expect that further instability in Afghanistan will create more displacement in Pakistan.

The operation of the Government against militant groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in SWAT District in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has triggered significant displacement totaling so far 552,000 Internally Displaced Persons based on the registration figures conducted by the authorities in both North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The most vulnerable among the registered IDPs are the 92,000 people including 17,084 children under five years living in the 11 official camps, which have already reached their capacity. An additional 462,000 persons are living outside camps.

As the situation in the Lower Dir, Swat, Malakand and Buner still remains volatile, there is an urgent need to recognize the seriousness of the situation by the international community. While at the national level, the Government of Pakistan is taking a number of measures to bring the situation under control, there remains a need for understanding of the gravity of the situation and for urgent assistance from the international community.

A number of humanitarian assistance agencies and civil society organizations are active in the region, but the number and the needs of the IDPs is on the rise with each passing day. The Government of NWFP, of which I am a member, lacks resources to cater for the needs of IDP populations, especially those living outside camps.

After the October 2005 earthquake, the Government has established the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). This authority now serves as the focal point for the coordination of humanitarian assistance. As Pakistan is one of the ‘One-UN’ Pilot Countries, all the international humanitarian assistance is coordinated through the UNDP and the UN Resident Coordinator. This practice ensures proper coordination between the national authorities and the UN agencies.

Assistance is needed in the sectors of Protection, food security, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, nutrition and education. Although a number of pledges have been made so far, but the on-ground delivery of the pledged assistance is still awaited. For effective humanitarian assistance, I would stress upon the importance of timely delivery of the assistance pledged by the international community.

In coordination with the UN agencies, the government of NWFP has prepared a ‘return package’ for each IDP family, consisting of both ‘food’ and non-food’ items. In addition to food items for six months, this package includes two tents, six blankets, one kitchen-set and logistics (including transportation) for each IDP family. At the present rates, this package is estimated to cost around 1600 USD. Although this is not a significant amount for each family, but when it multiplies with around 100,000 displaced families, it becomes 160 million US Dollars.

The Government of Pakistan also plans to create the necessary pull factors for accelerating returns, which include incentives upon return including rebuilding of the destroyed houses and provision of economic activities. The Government is planning vocational training programmes and skills development programmes, especially of the women IDPs upon return. Micro-credit schemes for establishing small businesses and cultivation of agricultural lands through distribution of free agricultural implements and seeds is also being planned by the government in coordination with relevant international agencies. All these activities would provide sustainable livelihoods to returning IDP populations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would therefore urge you all to approach your governments with the updates provided by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, with the recommendations for assistance, either in cash or in kind, so that the worsening situation could be brought under control in the NWFP and FATA areas.

I thank you.