Pakistan’s Internally Displaced Persons are Suffering

The conditions of the Internally Displaced Persons in the Bannu District of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan are absolutely miserable.

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A Police man pointing line to an IDP in sports complex Bannu IDP camp. Credit: The author

It was a hot day. I was dripping in sweat when visiting an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Bannu, city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Pakistan.

I saw a middle-aged man moving towards me because I had a camera and mic in my hands. The man said hello to me and asked if I was with the media. I said yes. He asked my purpose being in the camps.

I replied I was covering IDPs issues and the work done by the government for those made homeless due to military operations in North Waziristan.

That man was about to cry. His face was red. He took a long sigh.

I asked him, “what are you doing here?” He said “begging for my kids and family.” The man claimed he was living like a king in his hometown in North Waziristan. Continuing his talks, he added, “my two brothers’ and I have worked in the Middle East for the last 20 years to earn a living.”

“We have left our home because of the military operation “Zerb e Azb.” He said that he lost around 1 million US dollars when he was leaving his home. “I had spent a lot of money on that house. It was well furnished,” he added.

The man asked me, “What is my mistake? What is my sin? Why am I begging here in that camp for food?” The man added, “The authorities are not giving us those things that are announced for us by the government. If the government and Taliban fight, they should kill themselves. Why are we becoming the victims of these long wars?”

Early this month the Pakistani army launched a military operation against terrorists and militants in North Waziristan, along the Afghan-Pakistan border. According to rough estimates over half a million people fled their homes and moved to safer places. The government announced many facilities for these people but the announcements remained just announcements.

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I met dozens of displaced people in the camp who complained against the government. Abdullah, age 58, said that he comes to the camp to receive rations and food but returns empty-handed.

One camp official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that basically the government did not have any early planning. “How we can serve such a big number of people on emergency basis, when we were not prepared for that?” He said if the authorities have had preplanning for these people then it was not a big deal but now it is really a problem and unmanageable.

The conditions of these people are miserable. There is no facility for health, clean water, shelter and sanitation. The weather of the Bannu area is too hot these days. Children are getting sick. Many families are living in one house or tents together.

It is true that the government or Pakistani army didn’t give any time frame to the locals to evacuate the area. They also made no planning for these people to help in their evacuation.

Gohar Mehsud is a special correspondent for a Karachi-based TV on militancy. He can be reached at gohar.mehsud@gmail.com. In 2012-13, Gohar was awarded the Northwest Community College Initiative scholarship, a special scholarship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. Read other articles by Gohar.