PAKISTAN: UN seeks safe access to IDPs
ISLAMABAD, 8 November 2009 (IRIN) - As concern over the lack of access to internally displaced persons (IDPs) from South Waziristan grows among humanitarian workers, UN agencies have called for measures to ensure the security of all civilians caught in the conflict, including relief workers.
“All those who are involved in the military operation in one way or the other should ensure human safety and security to aid organizations to reach out to the affected population,” Martin Mogwanja, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan, said in a joint press conference with the UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Programme on 5 November.
Authorities have reassured international agencies about the welfare of IDPs and have said it is still too dangerous to allow relief workers access to the area.
“The Pakistan military is meeting the needs of displaced people,” Lt-Gen Nadeem Ahmed of the army’s Special Support Group told the media.
Mogwanja said assistance would continue to IDPs whether they were from Malakand Division or South Waziristan. International agencies, including UN organizations, are currently working with local partners to assist the displaced.
“We are providing assistance of all kinds despite the lack of access,” Billi Bierling, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told IRIN.
Mogwanja said it was “the responsibility of the government to ensure security”. He said so far no camps had been set up for IDPs, but “if the government of Pakistan decided to establish camps, the humanitarian community would assist with tents, site preparation, water and sanitation and other services”.
Authorities have cited security concerns as a reason for not setting up camps. Most of the 240,000 displaced from South Waziristan are staying with host families. Others have rented accommodation. While some of the displaced are stuck in South Waziristan, most have fled to the neighbouring Tank and Dera Ismail Khan districts of North West Frontier Province, which are also considered too insecure for aid workers.
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs
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