Rich states failing to pull their weight to assist conflict-affected Pakistanis

A weak international donor response is hampering efforts to assist more than two million women, men and children affected by conflict in northwest Pakistan, raising the risk of prolonged suffering and instability, says international agency Oxfam.

In a report published today, Oxfam said that the Pakistani authorities and the humanitarian community had made significant efforts to respond to the world’s biggest and fastest displacement of people in more than a decade – but were still struggling to cope.

Many displaced people have not received adequate water, sanitation, food, healthcare, cash, information, and shelter assistance, especially those in unofficial camps and host communities where approximately 85 per cent of displaced people are staying. In such challenging circumstances, women and children are most at risk, Oxfam said.

“The relief effort has been undermined by the lack of money which has contributed to delays in providing adequate water, sanitation, shelter and health care,” said Neva Khan, Oxfam Country Director in Pakistan.

“The United Nation’s revised appeal for $543 million was barely a quarter-funded six weeks into the emergency – and most of that was given to support the exodus of people fleeing clashes last year. Aid agencies are struggling for funds just as the summer monsoons are approaching, which raises the risk of disease. Much more needs to be done, especially by the international community, to meet immediate needs and support a recovery that will help future peace and stability,” Ms Khan said.

The report “Too Little, Too Slow: Why more must be done to assist Pakistan’s displaced millions” says that host communities have played a vital role in preventing a catastrophe but are struggling with dwindling resources and insufficient help. The humanitarian situation remains highly volatile as the conflict spreads, triggering new displacements.

Oxfam urges rich countries to support Pakistan’s democratic political leadership and local civilian institutions to lead a robust relief, recovery and reconstruction strategy. Affected communities – especially vulnerable groups such as women – and local civil society organizations must be given a meaningful part. The strategy must help address the root causes of instability and conflict.

“So far, rich states have not only failed to address adequately the humanitarian needs of more than two million women, men and children. They also risk missing crucial opportunities to support efforts that can help to stabilise a volatile region. With the humanitarian situation threatening to deteriorate, time is running out,” said Ms Khan.

Working with local partners, Oxfam is planning to assist up to 360,000 people both inside official camps and elsewhere with water and sanitation, non-food items, cash grants, and hygiene promotion. It is also supporting efforts to enable displaced people to achieve their rights to assistance and protection.

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