Pakistan IDP Figures Analysis

As of July 2015, there were more than 1.8 million people displaced by insurgency, counter-insurgency and other related violence in Pakistan.


IDPs are mainly concentrated in the country’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) (up to 1.5 million), but also live in Balochistan province and other parts of Pakistan (up to 275,000). Numbers likely underestimate the scale of displacement as they exclude unregistered IDPs living in KP and FATA and IDPs living in other parts of Pakistan, including in urban centres such as Karachi.

The estimate is based on a combination of sources. For KP and FATA, UNHCR regularly publishes information on numbers of displaced families who are registered as such, based on data provided by provincial authorities (UNHCR, KP and FATA IDP Statistics as of 31 March 2015, on file with IDMC). To calculate the number of individuals displaced, IDMC uses an average family size of 5.2.

No one regularly monitors internal displacement in Balochistan, and IDMC’s estimate is based on information available from media sources (The News, 28 July 2010; ICG, 23 January 2014, p.14; IRIN, 13 February 2014).

IDMC’s estimate of the total number of IDPs likely underestimates the real situation. It does not include IDPs in KP and FATA who are not registered as such. People who become displaced but do not hold a computerised national identity card (CNIC), have two addresses, or whose CNIC contains faulty information such as a duplicate family number are not eligible to register as IDPs. Further, only those IDPs whose home areas the government has declared to be “calamity-hit” are registered as IDPs (OCHA, 7 August 2014, p.7; OCHA, 18 June 2014, p.1).

The Internally Displaced Person Vulnerability Assessment & Profiling (IVAP), an independent project set up in 2010 to profile IDPs, recently found that about half of the IDPs covered by its profiling in KP and FATA were not registered (IDMC interview, January 2015). Further, no information is available on IDPs from KP and FATA who live in other areas of the country, including urban areas.

In KP and FATA, the majority of IDPs live with host communities, and just over 42,400 people are in camps. Available data disaggregated by age and gender suggests that 31 per cent are boys and 23 per cent girls, while 21 and 22 per cent are adult men and women under the age of 60, respectively. 2 and 1 per cent are older men and women (UNHCR, KP and FATA IDP Statistics as of 31 March 2015, on file with IDMC). No disaggregated data was available for IDPs elsewhere in Pakistan.

The country has also experienced large-scale displacement as a result of disasters brought on by natural hazards, mainly floods. From 2008 to 2013 disasters displaced a total of 13.76 million people, placing Pakistan fourth worldwide in absolute terms. Relative to its population it ranked sixth, with almost 13,000 people per million inhabitants displaced (IDMC, 17 September 2014, pp.32-33).

Conflict-related displacement since 2004 has been caused by fighting between the Pakistani military and non-state armed groups (NSAGs), clashes between NSAGs, sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims, tribal and local clashes over resources, and human rights abuses committed by both the military and NSAGs (IDMC, 12 June 2013, pp.3, 5; IDMC, 10 January 2012, pp.3, 8; The Friday Times, March 2012; HRCP, March 2013, p.279; IDMC, 6 September 2010, pp.21-24; AI, 2012; AI, June 2010, pp.11-15; ICG, 23 June 2014, pp.13-15; BBC, 22 February 2014; IRIN, 13 February 2014; Reuters, 21 May 2014). Information on numbers of IDPs in FATA and KP is regularly updated, while numbers on Balochistan are scarcer.

Of the total number, up to 907,000 were newly displaced in 2014, all of them from FATA’s North Waziristan and Khyber agencies. This compares to 140,000; 412,000; 190,000; 400,000 and 3 million newly displaced in the five preceding years. The total number of people in displacement peaked at 3 million in 2009 (IDMC, 14 May 2014, p.74; IDMC, 29 April 2013, p.70; IDMC, 2 April 2012, p.90; IDMC, 1 March 2011, p.92; IDMC, 1 May 2010, p.82). Some of the current IDPs were displaced as early as 2005 (from Balochistan) or 2007 (from KP’s Hangu district) (IRIN, 13 February 2014; IDMC interview, October 2014).

At least 104,000 returned in 2014, including up to 46,000 registered IDPs in KP and FATA, 55,000 newly displaced from FATA’s North Waziristan agency in January and March 2014 who were not registered as IDPs, and more than 3,161 IDPs from Balochistan (UNHCR Returns Fact Sheet as of 31 December 2014, on file with IDMC; OCHA, 18 June 2014, p.1; IRIN, 13 February 2014).

IDMC uses only the most credible accurate information available. Notwithstanding the caveats and limitations of the source information described above, IDMC believes this to be the best data and is grateful to the partners for sharing it.