PAKISTAN: Fresh wave of IDPs puts added strain on host families
KOHAT, 26 April 2010 (IRIN) - Host families in northwestern Pakistan are under further pressure as displaced people stream out of the Orakzai and Kurram tribal agencies near the Pakistan-Afghan border in search of shelter.
They are fleeing fighting between Taliban militants and government forces, but are also avoiding camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) after two suicide bombings at Kacha Pakha camp in the town of Kohat killed at least 42 and injured dozens of other IDPs on 17 April.
According to a 16 April update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, currently 270,426 individuals are listed as IDPs from Orakzai and Kurram. Most have headed to the Kohat and Hangu districts in Khyber-Pukhtoonkh’wa.
Some IDPs in camps have moved on. “We went to the Togh Sarai camp in Hangu [District]. But the facilities there were still being set up. Besides we got scared after news of the bombings at Kohat camp, so for now we have moved in with distant relatives here in Kohat,” Muhammad Shahid Manikhel, 30, from Orakzai Agency, told IRIN.
Most of the country’s 11 IDP camps are in Khyber-Pukhtoonkh’wa Province, known as North West Frontier Province until a name-change on 15 April.
“It is not in our culture to turn away guests, but for the first time families here find they are forced to do so. Many simply do not have the capacity to sustain more displaced persons, given that they have done so for much of the last year,” Qazi Sabir, a mosque prayer leader in Kohat, told IRIN.
He said IDPs had requested shelter at the mosque, and “we have given them space whenever we can, despite security fears. Local authorities have warned us to watch out for bombers, so sometimes we have had to turn people away”.
At her home in Kohat, Saima Bibi, 30, who currently has 18 individuals living in her four-room house, told IRIN how difficult things were.
“My husband’s cousin fled Orakzai with nine other family members, including six children. I have five children of my own. It is hard to manage, especially as we have only one tap and a constant shortage of water.” Despite this, she said: “we understand the hardship of these people and will do what we can for them.”
“Life has become increasingly dangerous over the past six months as fighting intensified. We had no idea where to go, but we are grateful for the kindness of people here,” said Faris Khan, from Kurram, who has rented a room for his family of six. “Neighbours supply us with food and that helps us manage… We know they have little to share.”
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs
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