The United Nations emergency relief arm today warned that population displacement could surge amid Government military operations and ongoing fighting between rival armed groups in northern Pakistan, near the Afghan border.
“Nearly 76,000 people – about 13,000 families – have been displaced in the Tirah Valley (Khyber Agency) in north Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, since mid-March,” Jens Laerke, a spokesperson from the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told journalists in Geneva.
“Government officials estimated that more people may leave the conflict-affected area in the near future, bringing the number of internally displaced to up to 120,000 people,” Mr. Laerke said, adding that authorities also estimate that the displaced people may remain homeless for up to six months due to the highly insecurity.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been registering the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in its camps. Of the nearly 76,000 people registered, only about eight per cent opted to stay in the Jalozai or Kurran agency camps, Mr. Laerke said. The remaining 92 per cent remain outside of UNHCR-supported camps.
“Government authorities, UN agencies and humanitarian partners were already providing basic assistance, but need $25 million to adequately address the needs of the displaced for the remainder of the year,” Mr. Laerke noted.
The Emergency Response Fund in Pakistan had allocated $1 million for the provision of non-food items, health care, food security and protection support to the IDPs from the Tirah Valley.
Humanitarian partners are seeking an additional $3.5 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to address their basic needs.
Displacement from Pakistan’s tribal areas began in 2008 in the wake of a Government crackdown on insurgents. At the height of the displacement crisis in 2009, more than 21,000 families, or around 147,000 people, were registered in the Jalozai camp – the largest of the four camps in the tribal areas for IDPs.