Author Topic: The “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time  (Read 25599 times)

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Offline Satyagraha

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Re: The “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time
« Reply #40 on: June 25, 2009, 11:44:15 am »
Around 40,000 leave as South Waziristan offensive begins
Monday, 22 Jun, 2009 | 02:53 PM PST |

Nearly two million people have fled fighting in northwest Pakistan, most since early May when the military began an offensive against Taliban insurgents, prompting the United Nations to launch an appeal for $543 million in aid to avert a long-term humanitarian crisis.

About 35 per cent of that figure has been reached, UN special humanitarian envoy Abdul Aziz Arrukban told Reuters, but the target has taken on a new urgency now that many thousands more displaced can be expected from South Waziristan.

‘It should be more, it should be bigger than that number but I believe some countries are working on donations now and hopefully we will get it fairly soon,’ said Arrukban, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s humanitarian envoy since 2007.

A Taliban thrust into northwestern Buner district in early April raised fears about the future of nuclear-armed Pakistan, a vital ally for the United States in its battle to defeat Al-Qaeda and its allies and to stabilise neighbouring Pakistan.

The military responded later that month and its main offensive, welcomed in Washington after doubts about Islamabad’s commitment to the fight against militancy, began in earnest in early May in the scenic Swat valley, once a tourist attraction.

Fighter jets have hit targets in South Waziristan in recent days ahead of the latest phase of the offensive, in which the military plans to target Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in his stronghold on the Afghan border.

About 37,000 people had already left their homes in South Waziristan, said Manuel Bessler, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, citing military figures.

Unique Problem

Bessler said Pakistan presented a unique problem for humanitarian officials because 80 per cent of the displaced were not in camps set up by the United Nations and other agencies but were staying with family and friends in ‘host’ communities.

‘Their capacity is stretched, if not to say over-stretched,’ Bessler said of the host communities, some of which have been sheltering the displaced since last August.
‘It’s very different to the displaced in Africa, where most are in camps,’ he told Reuters.

Pakistan is being kept afloat by a $7.6 billion International Monetary Fund loan, underscoring the need for outside help for the displaced. Arrukban said UN aid operations in Pakistan cost about $2 million a day.

He said he would travel soon to some Gulf Cooperation Council states and other Middle Eastern countries in search of aid.

Arrukban said he hoped many of the displaced would be able to return home soon would not comment directly on whether security and conditions were right yet for that to happen.

He said food supplies in the UN camps were in good shape but more tents, medical services and water were needed, he said after touring one of 34 ‘hubs’ set up for the displaced.

About half of Buner’s 700,000 population fled the fighting but have started trickling back as security improves. Roads into Buner from a camp in nearby Mardan were packed at the weekend as about 6,000 people returned, Reuters witnesses said.

Bessler said the fact that many of those from rugged, mountainous South Waziristan had second homes they used to escape the harsh winter might help ease some of the added strain on host communities and aid camps.

He said he was aware of reports that some Pakistanis, mainly ethnic Pashtuns, had fled across the border into Afghanistan, itself devastated by 30 years of war, to escape the fighting. —Reuters
And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline Satyagraha

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Re: The “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time
« Reply #41 on: July 05, 2009, 08:44:00 am »
Psychological scars haunt IDPs
Monday, 18 May, 2009 | 10:59 AM PST

JALALA CAMP: Grandmother Rehmat Noor stumbles into the medical tent. She can barely walk, her sight is failing and she has hardly slept since abandoning her home under fire in the mountains.

She has too many grandchildren to count. Her face is etched with lines and her open mouth sucks up what air she can in the stifling heat, exposing three rotten teeth hanging from her gum. She doesn’t know if she will go home.

‘I’m too weak to move even when I’m praying,’ she gasps, her watery eyes unseeing and straggly grey hair matted in sweat to the back of her neck where her headscarf has come lose.

‘I’m weak and cannot walk. I suffer from depression, sleeplessness, pains and headaches. We left our crops, our homes, our belongings. Crops are ready to harvest and we aren’t there,’ she says.

Her family is sheltering at a disused school. They escaped with nothing, running for their lives from military offensive against the Taliban in Buner, one of three northwest districts emptied by the fighting.

They have no bedding to cushion the hard cement floor.

‘We’re living in a school with lots of families. It’s hardly accommodation.
We have no proper food or sleeping arrangements,’ she says.

Rehmat is one of more than 1.1 million Pakistanis who fled their homes in two weeks — a third of the population in the northwest region of Malakand, where the government this year acquiesced to Taliban demands for sharia law.

It was a flight of terror, nights spent out in the open, petrified of being caught in air raids, children screaming, jobs lost and no indication of when they can return or whether they will have a home to go back to.

They said they left because they could no longer bear the shelling, mortar fire, Taliban who beheaded ‘spies’, curfews trapping them at home, casualties lying in the streets and the whirring menace of helicopter gunships overhead.

Local volunteers are bused into the government-run Jalala camp in Mardan district, bringing what supplies they can, but doctor Atta-ur-Rehman warns the psychological scars of displacement and war run deeper than their ailments.

‘These people are mentally disturbed and suffering from depression and sleep disorder,’ he says in between listening to patients with tales of woe, stewing in the heat of the plains to which those from the mountains are unaccustomed.
‘They’ve been displaced. They have no safety and no assurance of safety.

They are worried about the future — they have no future.’ Rehman abandoned his specialist practice to dispense first aid and pain killers — the only medicine he has — in a camp of around 6,000 people.

People live as many as 15 to a tent. There is no electricity. Nothing to alleviate the heat. Flies buzz everywhere. This is snake and scorpion-infested country, set in strawberry patches and sunflower fields.

Parents say their children suffer from nightmares, still disturbed by the fighting or struck low with diarrhoea because of poor sanitation and hygiene in the camp. Water pumps stand close to the stinking latrines.

Babies soil their clothes. Parents leave them semi-naked, perhaps because there aren’t enough clean ones to go around.

‘When there were helicopters or armed men they were forever crying and weeping,’ says Shabana, rocking her two-year-old daughter, weak with diarrhoea as the smell of faeces oozes through the tent.

‘Last night one of the children left the tent. We searched all over for her. In the end our neighbour brought her back. They are still frightened.’Shabana lived in purdah in Lower Dir. She turns her back to men outside the family, refusing to look at them. She says she has nothing against the Taliban, she never saw them. She never left home, not even to go shopping.

‘Everything was provided to us by our male members,’ she explains.
Blankets, a water cooler and two meals a day, dished out from giant vats of rice and chickpeas, are what these families live on.

Children take an active part in chores, straining to carry bowls and urns — traditionally used in toilets — back to their tents and packing blocs of ice into the rolled-up bottom of their shirts.

One little boy fiddles with a miniature plastic gun as a group of elders discuss why the Taliban were right to outlaw music and slam the government offensive. He is silent when asked what he would like to do when he grows up.
‘Talib, talib,’ the others laugh knowingly.
And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline Satyagraha

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Re: The “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time
« Reply #42 on: July 05, 2009, 09:05:49 am »
Pregnant and displaced
By Zofeen T. Ebrahim
Sunday, 05 Jul, 2009 | 03:21 PM PST

‘When I entered the tent, I saw Amna Bibi lying in a pool of blood, the newborn by her side and her three toddlers completely bewildered. The newborn baby girl had not even been wiped clean or covered up. The place was swarming with flies and a crowd of women had gathered, waiting for the young mother’s imminent death,’ narrated Bagh-i-Gul, a lady health visitor (LHV) working in the Yar Hussain camp, for the internally displaced people (IDPs), in Swabi.

According to Dr Jehanzeb Orakzai, focal person for health cluster in the Special Support Group (SSG), formed by the government for the IDPs, there are some 35,000 pregnant women among the 3.5 million IDPs who will deliver in the next seven months. So far he has had no report of even one mother or neonate dying during childbirth.

‘As I began to examine Amna, the women told me to leave her alone and not put her through more pain…they said her time was up,’ recalled Gul. ‘The placenta was still inside the mother and she was in a state of shock, needed to be hospitalised urgently.’ After getting permission from the husband, she quickly put her in the ambulance and brought her to the mother and child (M&C) centre set up in camp, by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Amna had been assisted by a woman from the nearby tent who was not experienced or skilled and therefore unable to recognise or even refer her to a trained person when the case became complicated. The woman just left her, for fate to take its course.

‘She was very weak and had not eaten for the past three days. Even after delivery, because she was in such a bad shape, they were not giving her anything.’

The incident took place on June 19, but since then, word has spread, said Gul, and women have been thronging to the centre for antenatal checkups.

The M&C centre at Yar Hussain, which began functioning early this month, has a fully equipped air-conditioned labour room to carry out safe deliveries. There are five more delivery points set up by UNFPA in Jalozai, Sadbarkaly, Jalala, Palosa and in Nowshera’s Pabbi Satellite Hospital.

The health cluster is making sure that fewer deliveries take place in tents. ‘Safe delivery is not possible in tents,’ observed Dr Aurang Zeb, Executive Director of Health Society, an NGO working in IDP camps in Mardan.

He knows that for many women this is the first time they are visiting a health facility.

‘But it is a good opportunity to teach this important lesson,’ said Dr Orakzai.

‘However, due to cultural taboos, language barriers, fewer female staff and lack of health education awareness many mothers reach the facility at the eleventh hour. Fortunately, there are enough ambulances and the distance from the camps to the facilities is negligible, so we are encouraging the IDPs to avail the facilities, which are completely free.’

For thirty-something Sayab Bibi, fleeing Swat on foot and taking refuge in Jalozai camp in Nowshera, may have been a perilous journey, especially since she was nine-months pregnant. Hers was nothing short of a miracle, insists Dr Tayyaba Rashid, a gynaecologist working in the Pabbi Satellite Hospital, in Nowshera. Sayab not only survived the travail of the exodus, but gave birth to a healthy baby girl on May 26. All her earlier four pregnancies had ended in miscarriages.

Had circumstances not forced her to deliver in a hospital, Sayab’s story may not have had a happy ending. Hers was a risky pregnancy as the baby was breach and she had to be operated upon.

According to Dr Tayyaba, a majority of the pregnant women IDPs suffer from depression. They complain of loss of appetite and body aches and most are anaemic.

No wonder Tahera Bano, an LHV in the same camp as Gul’s, says that lactating mothers insist she give them baby formula milk. ‘They keep telling me they cannot nurse as their milk has dried up.’

Dr Tayyaba has also noticed that quite a few women have come to her complaining of irregular menstrual cycle. ‘Many have developed urinary tract infection, itching and complain of discharge,’ said Dr Tayyaba.

Church World Services-Pakistan, a non-governmental organisation, reported of the difficulties faced by women in IDP camps. ‘Women desperately report the need for sanitary napkins,’ said the report published recently.

Without any money and their purdah compromised living closer to strangers, CWS said women immediately require a solution. ‘Some women are using and washing the same cloth repeatedly and as a result, increase their risk of infections.’

While working in camps it was realised that while the camp population was still looked after, it was the majority of the displaced who were living with host families who also needed the same services.

‘It was decided then to strengthen the existing health facilities including the district and the taluka hospitals as well as the rural health centres,’ said Dr Orakzai.

The Mardan Medical Complex, sprawled over 57 acres, was nothing more than a ‘ghost’ facility when Dr Amatullah Zain, head of the Gynae Ward at Jinnah hospital, and associate professor at Allama Iqbal Medical College, first went there to volunteer her services.

When the Punjab chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, visited the IDP camps on May 15, he noticed the dysfunctional facility and pledged to give it a new lease of life. The following week a team of 140 healthcare providers including doctors, surgeons and paramedics, including some 30-40 females, landed in the medical complex with essential drugs, machines and ambulances. Dr Zain was among that first batch.

‘On May 22, our doctors carried out their first delivery, which was a caesarean section and the father, Ali Ahmed Khan, decided to name his son Shahbaz Sharif Khan, after the chief minister,’ said Dr Raja Shafiq, who had been deputed at Mardan that week.

‘The most expert hands perform safe deliveries,’ said Dr Islam Zafar, director health, Punjab, who heads the team in Mardan. The gynaecological facility, confirmed Dr Amataullah, is nothing less than state-of-the art.

‘That is what we are aiming at, to strengthen existing hospitals through our partners so that even those living out of camps can avail the facilities, and when the IDP crises is over, the locals have fully functional, fully equipped healthcare facilities,’ summed up Dr Orakzai. Currently, there are 617 public health facilities (75 hospitals, 54 rural health centres and 488 basic health units) in districts hosting IDPs.
And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline Satyagraha

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Re: The “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time
« Reply #43 on: July 06, 2009, 09:23:15 pm »
Unicef warns children will be hit hardest by war
By Amin Ahmed
Saturday, 04 Jul, 2009 | 08:01 PM PST |

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Childrens’ Fund (Unicef) has expressed its deep concern about the condition of thousands of children who have been displaced by conflict, or who remain in the affected areas of NWFP.
Nearly 50 per cent of the estimated two million displaced are children, many of whom are in urgent need of health and educational services, nutritional support, access to clean water and sanitation as well as protection. Their situation has been compounded by the harsh summer temperatures, said an announcement by the UN agency.
The announcement says Unicef is especially concerned that some 700,000 children are due to start the new school year in September in 3,700 schools that are currently occupied by 150,000 IDPs. If these schools are not vacated and rehabilitated soon, the education of all these children will be interrupted. Some of these children could even drop out of the education system permanently.
The speed and magnitude of the crisis has stretched the capacity of the government, host communities and humanitarian actors to the limit. Though fighting is reported to have subsided in Swat and Buner, IDPs continue to seek refuge in camps and communities in northern parts of NWFP and new displacements are being recorded into southern parts of the province due to military operations in South Waziristan.
‘In Pakistan we face a unique humanitarian challenge, since the vast majority of the displaced are seeking shelter in host communities which are far more difficult to reach with basic services than in the camps,’ said Unicef’s Director of Emergency Programmes, Louis-Georges Arsenault.
While basic needs are being met in camps, the situation is critical for the vast majority of IDPs living in host communities. In the thousands of school buildings that have been converted into IDP shelters and other spontaneous camps that have sprung up throughout parts of NWFP to cope with the influx of people from conflict-affected areas, children and families are living in cramped conditions with limited to negligible access to safe drinking water and sanitation — and are difficult to reach with basic hygiene materials and education to decrease the likelihood of water borne diseases. At equal risk are host communities who are shouldering the burden with limited resources and fragile infrastructure in the aftermath of food prices spikes that took root in 2007.
Unicef was working closely with the government and other partners to provide services and information to displaced children and women. To prevent the outbreak of diseases, over 200,000 children have been vaccinated against measles and 230,000 people receive safe drinking water and hygiene education in IDP camps and communities.
To date, 47,400 children and 20,400 mothers have been screened for malnutrition, and the 11,000 moderately malnourished have received care within their own communities. While malnutrition rates are presently low, the vulnerability of the population requires sustained support to prevent the situation from deteriorating rapidly.
The Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan, revised in May to cope with new displacements caused by the military operations in Swat and Buner, has so far raised less than a third of the 543 million dollars required to support 1.7 million IDPs for six months. As part of the Appeal, Unicef requested 52 million dollars. To date 22.5 million dollars has been received from donors and is in hand – and another 9.3 million dollars has been pledged.
And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline Satyagraha

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Re: The “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time
« Reply #44 on: July 21, 2009, 05:55:56 am »

Focus on Malakand leaves tribal IDPs in lurch
By Waseem Ahmad Shah
Monday, 20 Jul, 2009 | 06:41 AM PST |

PESHAWAR: The internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Bajaur and Mohmand tribal agencies have been bearing the sweltering heat in different relief camps without provision of electricity and sufficient water.

The issues of the IDPs from Malakand region have almost eclipsed the problems being faced by the displaced persons from Bajaur and Mohmand agencies. The IDPs from these two agencies complained that they were facing discriminations for being tribal.

‘The entire focus of the media and the government agencies is on Malakand whereas we have been suffering with no hope of returning back to our areas in near future,’ said Rizwanullah Khan, an inhabitant of Bajaur staying at the Katcha Garhi relief camp in Peshawar.

He questioned that how could they stay in the camps without provision of electricity. ‘Women have to suffer most as the male family members could sleep outside their tents at night but the females could not,’ he added.

Malakand region, they said, was in the NWFP, therefore, due to political considerations the provincial as well as federal governments continued to give them importance as compared to the displaced persons from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

‘Three of our children have been suffering from Malaria and diarrhoea, but there is no proper medical treatment available in the camp,’ said Abdul Manan, belonging to Bajaur and presently staying at the Jalozai relief camp in Nowshera. He added that the children had been crying due to severe heat.

He regretted that they had been living in the camp since last year and the displaced persons from Malakand took shelter in a nearby new camp set up for them in May last, but still electricity was provided to the latter and they had been deprived of that facility.

Moreover, he said, for the last many days they had been facing problem of water supply. ‘The tubewell in the camp is operational for a very short time which could not cope with the extreme hot weather,’ Manan said.

Rizwanullah, who belongs to Charmang area of Bajaur, said that he recently returned back from his village where his house had been damaged during the military operation against the Taliban. He added that they had no place to return back.

‘Looking at the pace of the operation in Bajaur, it appears that its completion will take many months and till then we have to stay here,’ said Toora Khan, another IDP from Bajaur at Katcha Garhi Camp. He added that they did not know why they had not been treating at par with the displaced persons from Malakand.

Prolonging of the military operation in the tribal areas has forced scores of IDPs in the Katcha Garhi Camp to raise mud-walls around their tents. The non-provision of fuel for cooking food continues to be another major problem affecting the routine lives of these people.

Children in large number have turned into scavengers and it has now become their routine to go out and search for items which could be used as fuel.
And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

Offline bigron

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Re: The “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time
« Reply #45 on: July 22, 2009, 07:22:36 am »
Swat Valley Reconstruction to Cost Billions, Take Years

Posted By Jason Ditz On July 21, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

It took only weeks for the Pakistani military to drive virtually the entire population of the scenic Swat Valley, once a popular tourist attraction, into refugee camps. It will take at least three years, according to preliminary assessments from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, to repair the damage done in the massive offensive.

The authorities put the overall cost of the rebuilding at $2.5 billion, adding that this was a “very initial estimate” that could rise considerably before all is said and done. The three year timeline assumed all the funding necessary was made available, an open question in the nearly bankrupt nation.

The offensive has been doing on for months now, but the military just finally started allowing civilians back into the region last week, and millions remain in the refugee camps.

Despite the repeated claims that the war was almost over, violence has lingered in the region around the Swat Valley, and the military has claimed to have killed over 50 in the last two days in the Lower Dir district.

Related Stories
July 15, 2009 -- Will Af-Pak War Spill Into Tajikistan?
July 13, 2009 -- After Months of Violence, a Trickle of Swatis Returns Home
July 6, 2009 -- At Least 14 Killed as Swat Valley Conflict Continues


Article printed from News From

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Offline Satyagraha

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Re: The “war on terror”: creating refugees one village at a time
« Reply #46 on: October 25, 2009, 09:45:53 am »
Access denied
Sunday, 25 Oct, 2009

As the fighting rages, it is getting harder for aid to reach those who need it most.

Although one understands the gravity of the situation in an area where a war is being fought and its implications for the security of the local population and aid workers, it must be remembered that Pakistan is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions that constitute what is called humanitarian law.

The government is obliged to observe some basic principles, such as proportionality in the means and methods of warfare while exercising discrimination between non-combatants and combatants. If this is done it will, according to the ICRC, minimise the impact of the war on civilians who are innocent victims caught in the crossfire. Doubts have been expressed on this score. As a result the number of detainees and injured and displaced people has been increasing phenomenally. They need humanitarian assistance. Unfortunately, they are not receiving it. Hence the ICRC’s appeal.

According to one estimate, 60,000 people have been displaced in South Waziristan in the latest surge in fighting, while 80,000 are reported to have left their homes earlier. There are no independent sources to ascertain the accuracy of the figures.

What is certain is that this has created
a massive humanitarian crisis that
needs to be addressed immediately.

The army has chosen to keep aid workers out of the war-affected region partly on grounds of the security of the aid workers themselves and partly to enable the defence forces to conduct the war with a free hand. But one cannot overlook the legal obligations of the state which cannot absolve itself of its humanitarian responsibility even though the militants — essentially non-state actors — have been ruthless. It is important that the ICRC, which is independent and neutral, be allowed access to the war zone with as much security as possible. Its working should be facilitated so that the IDPs can be provided relief, the injured given medical treatment and the conditions of the detainees monitored to re-establish family links and prevent abuse.
And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40