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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Call for Action to Help IDPs in Pukhtunkhwa

Refugees on their own Land

Call for Action to Help IDPs in Pukhtunkhwa
by Farhad Yousafzai, Yesterday at 1:11pm

Today a TV programme on Geo TV Pakistan showed clippings of families forced out of their homes by the ongoing military operations in the Buner area. The displaced families mostly consisted of women and young children with the men mostly engaged in extricating whatever is possible from their destroyed homes. This fresh wave of internally displaced people has increased the number of IDPs manifold.
The Commissioner for Refugges in Peshawar Mr Syed Jamaluddin today announced on Geo TV that more than 6 hundred thousand ( 600000) people have been displaced by the militancy and army operations in Swat, Dir, Bajaur and Buner region over the last one year. The most recent wave of refugees are streaming out of Buner and Lower Dir. These people have been forced out of their homes with only their clothes on their bodies. They have lost their homes, their living means and in some cases their loved ones. The authorities ( Federal, Provincial or Army) have no plan of action to help these miserable ppl and they have to spend their lives under bridges, trucks and nullah folds. The few refugee camps set up are devoid of any facilities like water, toilets, clothing and food. The kids have been forced out of schools and have nothing to do. This situation may result in another catasrophe whereby these young kids might end being driven towards drugs, petty criminals or worse join the militants.

The international humanitarian organisations are quiet and so are the local NGOs and Political parties and govt departments. This is a frightening scenario which might play havoc with the society in the form of drugs, weapons, crime and overall deteoriaration in the already fragile law and order situation in the setteled districts of NWFP and adjoining areas. There is a dire need to bring this in to the notice of the responsible authorities both within Pakistan and internationally.
This call is to all those who care about humanity and help to the disadvantaged people across the world. This is also to those who love and care about the Pakhtun nation. We must rise to prevent this catsrophe in the making. The first step in this direction is to start a campaign on the electronic media, print media, facebook, blogs, ipetitions and any other means to highlight the issue with a veiw to pressurise the Govt of Pakistan, UNHCR, international Aid Agencies, Humanitarian organisations and NGOs to come out with concrete plans for helping these poor, homeless and wretched people, mostly consisting of old men, women and children.
My appeal is also to the Pakistani and particularly the Pakhtun diaspora to come forward with plans for initiationg necessary actions at our own in the countries of our residence. The actions might include setting up of groups for collecting donations, writing to the responsible/appropriate international organisations, organising seminars, awareness walks, talk shows and bringing the issue in to the notice of the government representatives of their respective countries of residence.

I would also request those of us involved with the media to push their colleagues to bring the issue to the fore by organising necessary talk shows,doing stories on the subject and writing about it. Those involved in research are requested to make efforts to document the statistics, facts and figures of the casualties, injuries, damages to properties and the like. The media people may also like to explore individual stories so as to highlight the exact state of affairs on the ground and get the attention of international organisations/individuals.

Lastly, with the Kerry-Logar bill having been presented in the US Congress, it is time to push the Government to commit that the funds will be used for improving the social, economic and humanitarian situation on ground in the affected areas rather than diverting these funds to military use.

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