More than 440,000 people in dire need of emergency humanitarian assistance after being displaced from Khyber Agency in northwest Pakistan

Pakistan Humanitarian Forum and National Humanitarian Network Joint Press Release

Islamabad (April 28 2012): A recent influx of 63,000 displaced families – bringing the total to almost half a million people – into the Districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has sparked grave concerns among international and national NGOs in Pakistan. Members of the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) and the National Humanitarian Network (NHN) warn that there are considerable emergency needs and significant protection concerns with families living in overcrowded conditions with little food or water, limited sanitation facilities or healthcare supplies, and limited to no opportunities to earn an income in the displaced areas. The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) and the National Humanitarian Network are calling for financial support from the government and donor agencies to ensure the urgent needs of those displaced from their homes are met.

After traveling on foot for up to two days, just 10% of these displaced families have settled in Jalozai Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp, where the registered displaced have access to basic necessities such as food, shelter and essential healthcare services. Due to cultural constraints, as well as issues with registration for assistance, the remaining 90% of those displaced have opted to live with host communities and rent spaces or move in to accommodation already occupied by families, resulting in overcrowding and extra burden on host community services and markets that are already poor.

Critically, many of the displaced fled with limited possessions or assets. This coupled with limited to no employment opportunities to enable the displaced to contribute to or improve their living conditions will result in many families, both those that are displaced and the host communities accommodating them, entering into debt to try and meet their basic needs. PHF and NHN are calling for the start of registration and distribution of aid outside of Jalozai IDP camp, where the vast majority of IDPs have settled and for targeted support for host communities.

“The displaced residing in host communities are stretching limited resources further, there is an urgent need to commence registration and distribution of emergency supplies and services to IDPs that have settled off camp and to deliver support to host communities to cater for the additional demands levied on these communities as a result of the displacement” said Samina Khan, Coordinator of the National Humanitarian Network.

Since January 2012, security operations against non-state armed groups in Khyber Agency have prompted this mass displacement. The situation is particularly critical as the government states it could last up to six months while the humanitarian community expects that families will not be able to return until early 2013. There are also fears that 20,000 more families will be displaced as the conflict spreads to other parts of Khyber Agency.

Aine Fay, the Chair of the PHF, said, “Assessments conducted off camp in the Districts of Peshawar, Nowshera and Kohat, where the internally displaced persons (IDP) concentration is high, has revealed alarming information. Nearly half of families displaced are unregistered, excluding them from receiving any aid. Over 40% of families struggle to find shelter. About 80 % of families assessed said they have little or no access to healthcare or medicines and are dependent on the minimal income earned by men securing work as daily wage laborers.”

Ensuring support for the most vulnerable, including children, women, the disabled and the elderly is a specific need for both the 10% of IDPs registered in Jalozai camp and for 90% of IDPs that are off camp. “Given their cultural constraints, displaced women and girls are especially vulnerable wherever they find themselves, addressing their privacy and security issues must be prioritized urgently,” said Arif Jabbar, Country Director for Oxfam in Pakistan.

Children account for half of the displacement figures. Assessments revealed that 12% of the displaced are under the age of 2 while 16% are less than 5 years old. The present situation raises serious concerns for the security, health and wellbeing of these children. 13% of children are already said to be suffering from psychological distress. Many IDPs said education is a primary need of their children, yet three in five families say they cannot afford even basic school expenses such as stationery items for their children. David Wright, Country Director of Save the Children, and member of PHF, noted “With more than half of all displaced children out of school, the fear of them being forced to work is increasing day after day. Previous experience shows that many will engage in hazardous occupations such as helping hands at workshops and teahouses or worst still as beggars and garbage pickers. Putting these children back in school is the best hope for their future.” NHN and PHF call for the local Government to issue notification to District Education Officers to admit children to the schools available in host communities to the full capacity possible putting aside usual requirements for certificates or an ID cards.

The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum and the National Humanitarian Network are calling for a strong show of solidarity and support from the Pakistani government and international donor agencies to ensure the urgent needs of those displaced from their homes are immediately met.

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Notes to editors

The Pakistan-Humanitarian Forum (PHF) was formed to coordinate and strengthen the efforts of International NGOs working in disaster management. The forum collectively represents INGOs to the Government of Pakistan, United Nations, and the larger humanitarian and civil community, including the National Humanitarian Network of Pakistani NGOs and Community-Based Organizations.

PHF has seats on the Humanitarian Country Team, the Policy and Strategy Meetings in Peshawar, the Emergency Relief Fund Advisory and Review Boards, and the Pakistan Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Country Team, a coordination mechanism constituted by UN agencies, the Red Cross Movement, and international NGOs. There are 47 member organizations of the PHF and 9 organizations with PHF observer status.

The National Humanitarian Network is the forum for National NGOs working in Pakistan. It comprises of 112 organizations based at District, Provincial and/or National level.

Contact information

For more information please contact the PHF on or 03455009574.