31 December 2013 |

Pakistan: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2013

 

Armed conflict continued to be the main cause of displacement in Pakistan in 2013. An estimated five million people have been displaced by conflict, sectarian violence and human rights abuses in the north-west of the country since 2004. Movements peaked in 2009, when three million people were forced to flee their homes, but by the end of 2010 the number of people living in displacement had fallen to around a million. Returns have since been offset by new displacement, with the total number of IDPs standing at around 746,700 at the end of 2013.

A hundred and forty thousand people were newly registered as displaced during the year. The majority fled from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to neighbouring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. There are also an unknown number of unregistered IDPs from FATA, some of whom were identified by the IDP Vulnerability Assessment and Profiling (IVAP) project.

UNHCR registers IDPs on behalf of the disaster management authorities in KP and FATA. To be eligible for registration, applicants must hold a valid national identity card (CNIC) showing two addresses in an area the government has “notified” or officially recognised as affected by conflict.

Two major waves of new displacement took place in FATA during in 2013. In March, heavy fighting between non-state armed groups forced more than 17,000 families to flee their homes in the Tirah valley in Khyber agency. Those affected fled into the bordering FATA agencies of Kurram and Orakzai and the KP districts of Kohat, Hangu, Peshawar and Nowshera. Intense clashes between the Pakistani army and non-state armed groups in Kurram subsequently displaced around 10,600 families in early May. Most IDPs took refuge in host communities, mainly in Lower Kurram, while others sought shelter in the New Durrani displacement camp in FATA.

Ninety-five per cent of registered IDPs in north-west Pakistan live with host communities, relying on social and family networks to help them find housing and employment. The remaining five per cent live in the region’s three displacement camps: New Durrani, Jalozai and Togh Sarai.

IDPs living in camps are generally considered to be in greatest need of assistance. That said, many outside the camps live below the poverty line and do not have adequate access to food, housing and basic services. An IVAP profiling exercise conducted in seven KP districts between May and December found IDPs’ primary humanitarian needs to be food, non-food items, assistance with rent and access to water and livelihood opportunities. The international response was coordinated through the cluster system.

Ongoing insecurity in north-west Pakistan exposed IDPs to threats to their physical security during 2013. In March, 15 were killed when a car bomb exploded at the Jalozai displacement camp in KP.

The national government continued to prioritise the return of registered IDPs to “denotified” areas where it deems military operations to be over. IVAP found that 79 per cent of IDPs planned to return to their places of origin as soon they were declared safe, and that 13 per cent planned to go back regardless of the security situation. More than 108,000 IDPs from FATA returned to their homes and were deregistered during the year. The government and international organisations provided transport and food rations.

In principle, returns should take place under the terms of a 2009 policy framework, which states that the FATA and KP authorities must ensure they meet national and international standards as safe, well-informed and voluntary.

More than 1.4 million people who have returned to FATA since 2009 continue to try to recover their livelihoods and rebuild their lives. Many found that their homes had been damaged and that they had only limited access to basic services such as health care and education. IDPs also said they had suffered substantial crop and livestock losses as a result of their displacement.

The national government approved the first phase of the Early Recovery Assistance Framework for FATA at the end of October, with a budget of $75 million for 2013. The framework aims to respond to the needs of FATA’s returnees by restoring communities’ capacity to recover, but no progress in terms of implementation had been reported by the end of the year.

There is only very limited information on the number and situation of IDPs in other parts of the country, particularly urban areas such as Karachi.