Returning IDPs exposed to harsh weather: Humanitarian disaster feared in Kurram
PESHAWAR, Nov 13: More than 4,630 internally displaced families, who have been relocated to the central tehsil of Kurram Agency, stand exposed to harsh weather owing to nonexistence of shelter as humanitarian organisations are reluctant to assist them, according to officials.
“In the face of a harsh winter ahead, it will prove to be the worst humanitarian disaster if swift action is not taken to provide shelter to these families,” said an official. He added that UNHCR and other humanitarian bodies had expressed helplessness to come to the rescue of those families owing to non-availability of resources.
UNHCR spokesperson Dunya Aslam Khan told Dawn that her organisation had already done a lot to reach out to the people in distress and provide them relief. She said that UN agencies and their partners had provided tents, non-food items and other basic facilities to the returning displaced persons in Kurram Agency.
Sources said that security forces had cleared Masoozai area of central Kurram of militants and Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) was directed to send displaced families living in and off IDP camps back to their homes.
The government had registered 17,760 displaced families after the operation was launched in July 2011 in the tribal region. According to FDMA, total 4,630 displaced families comprising 20,000 individuals have been relocated to Masoozai area while thousands of families are still waiting in New Durrani Camp and with host families to go back to their homes.
The affected families complained that their houses had been flattened in the combat zone. An elder of Masoozai tribe informed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar during a jirga in Parachinar last week that each returning family had been provided with only one tent for shelter.
“It would be big human tragedy if quick action was not taken for these people,” he said. He added that over 3,000 houses had been destroyed only in Masoozai area in the military operation.
The temperature remains below freezing point in Masoozai and other areas of central Kurram, bordering Khyber and Orakzai tribal agencies.
Officials said that each returning family had to be content with the single tent provided by UNHCR, the only aid they had received so far. Sources said that the returning IDPs needed winterised tents and quilts to keep themselves warm in the chilly weather.
“Authorities in Fata have sought emergency assistance from humanitarian organisations to assist them in this tough time,” said one of the officials dealing with relief activities in Fata. He said that the federal government’s response was lukewarm as it didn’t take notice of the plight of the IDPs in Fata.
It is learnt that the Saudi government is yet to fulfil its commitment to provide about 1,300 single-room shelters to IDPs in Kurram Agency. Sources said that the UN refugee agency, which had been playing leading role in providing relief to IDPs, had informed the quarters concerned that it could not provide further assistance to the returning people.
Officials said that return of IDPs to South Waziristan and other parts of Fata had been slowed down owing to lack of resources though security forces had declared those areas safe for rehabilitation work.