Wrapping up a mission to Pakistan that included time in the country’s tribal region, where the protracted suffering of the displaced is “heart-wrenching,” a senior United Nations humanitarian official today stressed the need for more support to millions of people affected by insecurity, natural disasters and chronic malnutrition in the country.
Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang visited the Jalozai Camp for displaced people in Nowshera District, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), which hosts an estimated 32,000 people displaced by insecurity. She met families who have been displaced for years, many still waiting to return home.
“The protracted suffering of 1 million people who are displaced in KP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is heart-wrenching. More needs to be done to assist them and the host communities whose resources have been stretched to the limit,” said Ms. Kang.
“Although Government authorities and the humanitarian community are providing humanitarian assistance and are helping people return home voluntarily, the majority of displaced people need assistance to cope daily,” she added.
During her three-day mission, Ms. Kang also met senior government officials in Islamabad and Peshawar, and discussed ways to enhance the close cooperation between the authorities and the international humanitarian community in assisting people in need.
Ms. Kang commended the Government of Pakistan for its significant support to vulnerable communities in KP and FATA, and also discussed ways to strengthen ongoing relief efforts and programmes in Tharparkar and the surrounding districts in Sindh, where communities continue to be affected by chronic malnutrition.
“Food insecurity remains a major concern in Pakistan where more than half of the population does not have enough to eat,” she said, adding that nearly half of all children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. “But we are only reaching about 25 per cent of the estimated 130,000 children who require life-saving nutrition support in drought-affected areas.”
Ms. Kang highlighted that more resources are needed to help humanitarian partners establish more community-based malnutrition treatment sites, enhance emergency health services, build and rehabilitate water harvesting structures, and improve livelihood support in affected areas.
She also called for long-term disaster risk initiatives to help mitigate the impact of recurrent monsoon floods. Since 2010, over 30 million people have been affected by flooding during the monsoons, many of them multiple times.
“The solutions are there but we won't be able to implement them unless all partners – the Government of Pakistan, the UN, civil society, and philanthropists alike – come together to urgently tackle these challenges,” said Ms. Kang.