The Tragic Status of IDPs in Balochistan

Conflict in Balochistan has forced thousands to flee; however the government refuses to officially declare them as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

balochistan-idpsThousands of people have reportedly fled their homes in the Kech, Punjgur, and Awaran region of insurgency-marred Balochistan since conflict between security forces and insurgents took a turn for the worse.

However there is no official figure of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) since the government has not declared them as IDPs, but it is generally believed that the figures are high.

More than 600 families (around 5,000 people) have left their homes due to the tense situation.

Abid Baloch, a local support program organizer in Sharak, said in a statement that people under duress and fear have fled. They left in such haste that that they couldn’t harvest their crops and they had to leave their possessions behind.

Similarly, people from Punjgur, Awaran and Kuzdar have migrated and shifted to some other places. Most of the displaced people, from Awaran and Panjgur districts, have relocated to Hub, Winder, Othal and Lasbela.

Moreover, hundreds of families, displaced from different areas of Kech, are now living in Turbat City in rented houses, government buildings, and even in open spaces. Though the local administration has provided the basic supplies such as food, grain and tents, these measures haven’t been satisfactory to address this issue.

In order to get more support, the government is supposed to declare these people as IDPs. The officials of National Rural Support Program (NRSP), when contacted, said that they could not start any relief activity until the government declares the displaced persons as IDPs. The displaced people form Awaran, Kuzdar and Panjgur districts have also received no support. However, support for them is crucial.

Abdul Haleem Baloch, deputy political secretary to Balochistan’s Chief Minister, has said that the displaced persons will soon return to their native areas, and therefore there is no need to give them the official status of IDPs. He further stated that support provided by the local admiration is quite helpful for them.

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Mohammad Tahir, president of the ruling National Party (NP) in Kech, believes that the migrated people, who are government employees, are not facing an IDPs-like situation because they receive salaries even without reporting on their official duties. “If any of the families is receiving this amount of money, this is certainly better than the amount that IDPs are receiving in other parts of the country,” he said.

Let’s admit that the ones receiving salaries are living quite well. But what about those farmers who left their land and crops which was their only source of income? What about those laborers who worked the whole day for the sake of their children? It is imperative for the government to respond appropriately by at least providing them IDPs official status.

Jahanzaib Naeem is a student of Journalism at International Islamic University, Islamabad.