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Posts tagged with: idprelief

Relief Cannot Wait – Flood Relief Mission 2 – this weekend

With a very heavy heart I write this blog post urging for immediate suport for the flood relief victims. We have been receiving word from many sources that there is dire need for food relief in the disaster stricken areas people may possibly be dying while we sit comfortably in our homes enjoying those lavish iftaris. With 20 million poeple suffering from the disaster we simply cannot wait for International donor agencie to suddenly wake up and come running, they simply are not too concerned the political leadership PPP despite being in power has zero presence in this region and all feudal lords are busy protecting their own lands while the rest can go to hell.

This last week a group of friends from OffroadPakistan and MotorSports Club of Pakistan embarked upon a relief mission to Sukkur, One team setup a small tent city of about 50 odd tents provided them with food and water, while the remaining hampers were distributed in and around the disaster area. Another team took the step to head towards Kashmore with about 1800 food hampers, went door to door and they got a first hand glimpse of what hunger and starvation has done to these dislocated people. Frantic requests have come forth to come now not later, and to come repeatedly, have emerged from all these areas, whatever we do, is at best a small drop, but help nevertheless to hopefully save our people.

OffroadPakistan was envisioning a longer planned approach with the establishment of a tent city to the likes of over 500 tents housing 5000 people with total logistical support for the next 3 months.

With the repeated pleas for help, it has compelled us not to sit back and plan, but to delivery NOW targeting remote locations where aid has not reached, being offroading enthusiasts we need to push the envelop to go further and deeper. So hence forth launches the effort for our second relief mission this weekend Saturday we depart and with the hope to return Monday evening if not sooner. To plan for this sudden trip we have some donations left over from last week which can be diverted to acquiring one truck of food hampers [600 from makro, we have commitment for a truck of bread [Papay]. We are issuing an urgent call for donation, the best way is to donate cash to me personally [23-B Sindhi Muslim Society] alternatively you can arrange for goods in-kind but preferably in pre-packaged hampers [which should be ready to depart on Friday night] as usual the entire trip will be documented via Twitter, GPS and Facebook, so everyone will have live updates of where we are and what we are doing.

Step up NOW, pakistan simply cannot wait


Return to Jalala – IDP Situation Update

Madey_Baba_SchoolAfter returning from a relief distribution to Mardan in May 2009, I regularly followed up with events concerning the IDPs in N.W.F.P. Regardless of the numerous analyses (and conspiracy theories) emerging in the public discourse about the war and its affects, the priority for me remained in providing assistance to displaced families.

I tried to replicate the great work done by Lahore’s Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP), who have adopted 9 IDP schools in Mardan and Swabi and are looking after the needs of 300 families by collecting donations from Lahore and giving food, medicines and other items through local NGOs of the area. Their families will be assisted after their return to Swat as well.

Besides the obvious difficulty of managing such a program alone, the great distance between Karachi and Mardan, my inability to follow up due to a hectic work schedule with Indus Resource Centre (IRC) and the lack of interest shown by people in Karachi discouraged me to the degree of becoming indifferent to the crisis.

By mid June, the IDPs had taken a backseat in the media networks, whereas the plight of displaced families became a routine matter for people, easily ignored and shrugged aside like another hunger strike by haris in Hyderabad or a drone attack in Waziristan. Friends who were trying to collect donations faced what’s called in the NGO world: ‘donor fatigue’. Everyone had given something from their pocket or bought food items, clothes or beddings and deposited them at one of the stalls in their city. Multinational corporations, wealthy businessman and salaried middle classes at home and abroad had given their share to the ‘Prime Minister’s Special Fund for Relief of Victims of Terrorism’ or to an NGO operating in the affected area. Average Pakistanis thought that maybe our role in this crisis had finished or as I heard from many people, ‘The military operation is succeeding and the crisis shall end soon.’
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Becoming an IDP – Real life experience of two females from Swat

Foize Nasim interviewed Saira, a 20 years old girl from Mingora, Swat at a training centre set up by PPAF at Jalala Camp.

Saira has 7 sisters and 3 brothers. 3 of her sisters are married, two of whom were living at Jalala with their families. One sister, Farhat was missing with her husband, who had decided to stay back at Mingora. Saira and her family had been calling her cell phone and PTCL line but had no news from her.

Saira had studied till class 6 and was currently enrolled in a religious course for becoming an alima at Mingora. Her father worked as a laborer but her family owned a sweetshop which was blown up last year when the Taliban arrived. She could not say why they had targeted her family’s shop.

Saira mentioned that she had arrived two months ago and they were 13 people living in two tents at Jalala Camp. She said her family had walked from 7 a.m. till 9 p.m. from Mingora when they decided to leave. They reached Batkhail on foot and then rented a car for Rs.12,000 to reach Jalala at 1 a.m. the next day.
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Returning Home – An Interview with an IDP

Married with 2 kids, Burhan Din is 28 years old and belongs to Amankot in Mingora, Swat. He is pursuing an M. Phil. in Anthropology from Peshawar University. He had been working for a trust called Muslim Aid in Mingora as a hygiene promotion officer for one year before he was forced to leave his home on the 2nd May, 2009. I was given the contact of Burhan, who had tried to go back to his home in Mingora and was keen to share his experience.

Burhan mentioned that the problem of Taliban had begun two years ago and although they were not targeting civilians they were considered a threat by the people of Mingora. Security personnel, government servants and especially the military were their main targets as well as anyone they deemed worthy of punishment such as criminals, drug dealers and political party workers.

The arrival of the army in late April was a severe threat to his life and with the fighting intensifying, he like everyone else in Mingora city, decided to leave. Burhan took his family and reached Takht-Bhai on May 4th and was registered at the Jalala Camp. However, there was no room for people then in the camp. Along with five other families, Burhan, his wife, two children and parents settled at Government Boys Primary Schools Sher Hasan Kilay at Pir Saado in Takht-Bhai.
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The Hoodlumism of Army Officers and the Blatant Lack of Accountability

PK-tyrant-boot-posterRecently Mr Ali Anan Qamar, an Assistant Coordination Officer and in-charge of Sheikh Yasin camp was beaten up and publicly humiliated by two officers of Pakistan Army, Maj. Asad Jamal and Lt. Haider marwat of 32nd Cavalry on 8th July 2009. Mr Qamar is a very well educated official of the government and we fear that if such treatment is meted out to high officials of the civil bureaucracy what may be happening to those who are the poor and illiterate in society and who cannot even raise their voices.

Ali Anan Qamar wrote on PkPolitics.com
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The displaced vs the well placed people of Pakistan

IDP Kids“The twins were born as the mother desperately struggled with the pangs of pain, the sound of falling artillery shells, the suffocation of gun powder and the stench of decaying dead bodies. By the time it was morning, the family realized that one of the two babies, had not survived the ordeal of childbirth. The one who had said good bye to life, shared the same bed with the one who was still clinging to it. There was no way that a burial could be held in a curfew. Suddenly there were frantic announcements for a 2 hour curfew break asking the residents to vacate the valley as soon as possible. The family hurriedly packed their humble belongings, picked up the new born and dashed out of their home into one of the many cramped trucks headed towards Mardan. It was some where close to Dargai, that the unfortunate mother realised that she was carrying the dead child, while the living one had been left behind.” This heart breaking story was narrated by a doctor who treated this shattered family at Sahakot. This may just be one glimpse of the untold trauma faced by the millions of fleeing residents of Swat. Little did they know that their suffering and agony would appear diminutive in comparison to what lay ahead in the days to come.

The Rangmaala relief camp located at the very top of Malakand, close to the borders of Swat and Buner, provides the first opportunity that a displaced family can avail as a shelter. The camp set up by the Red Crescent Society of Pakistan houses 4600 persons (702 families) and is by far the most well organized refugee camp. The government has provided various support services, including electricity and cooked food. Each family has received a tent, a mat, a cooler, a fan, a bucket, a kitchen set and a hygiene set. There are common toilets, washing area and a dispensary. From the point of view of the organizers, they have provided all that was needed to make Rangmaala a model camp. There should be no further cause for a complaint. This is the first conceptual mistake made in a relief process, when people become numbers and the relief goods become check-lists. None of the organizers had actually spent even one day in a tent, lined up for food or visited the toilet even once to get a personal experience of what it was like to live in a camp. The temperature inside the tents where the women remain motionlessly seated like toasts in an oven was at least 10 degrees higher than outside. People and buckets queued up three times a day to surrender their dignity in return for a few mugs of the yellow liquid called ‘daal’ and the toilets’ hygiene permitted visits only in situations of unbearable duress.
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Report on the IDP situation

Report by Wali Haider from ROOTS

Roadside IDPs running for foodTalking to the displaced people in various IDP camps, or in the homes of friends/relatives during my recent visit to Takht Bhai and Charsadda they have taken refuge it is obvious that for them the objectives of the army operation remain unclear. At the same time their suffering as IDPs are manifold.

According to a social worker at a camp in Takht Bhai,, the government is providing two maund of wheat, four kilo dal, five kg cooking oil, five kg sugar, one packet salt, 250 gram of tea to each registered IDP; the rations are provided on a monthly basis.

People have to stand in lines to get their quota; they queue up early in the day and spend the day waiting for their turn. There are few distribution points and sometimes they have to go again the next day.
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The women who walked – and walked

IDPs on the streets of MardanThis is an abridged version that was published on 4th June in The News extracted from a recent report by AIRRA (Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy) based in Peshawar, whose members traveled to the IDP camps for these interviews.

We write here some of the stories the women of Swat told us. They come from Kabbal, Mingawera (Mingora), Qambar, Kanju and other parts of Swat. Some are from Buner and Maidan in Lower Dir. Their lives were affected in many more ways than the lives of their men.

When we entered the large tent a few women looked up and smiled. Some got up and put out their hands to greet us. They seemed surprised that we could converse in the same language. “Sit down. We can’t even offer you tea” said one laughing, “look at us and what we have been reduced to.” Their children were lying on the floor, red because of the heat, tired and listless in the hot air of the fans. The women had been sitting in silence before we went in. We could hear no noise from the tent which was full of about forty women and children. What could they share with each other? Each story was the same as the other. It was a pall of misery and silences that hung over their heads. These women were lucky; they had a common place to come to, out of their tents. In most camps, the women sit in the heat of the tents, not being allowed to go out. They wait for their men to come before they can use the toilets. Their children defecate outside the tents as they cannot take them to the toilets. In some schools, they feed their children first and, at times, do not eat.
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IDP Crisis, More transparency, please

swat-buner-lower-dir-pakistan-army-taliban-imperialism-war-idp-campsVoices of reason and critique are often drowned in the sounds of gunfire and heavy artillery shelling. This current operation ‘Rah-e-Rast’, or what is being termed as a ‘War for Pakistan’s survival’, has resulted in an exodus of almost 3 million people which might just be another number for those who are at the helm of affairs in Islamabad. Dawn’s magazine Herald wrote in its editorial: “Fear of Taliban being just 60 kilometers away from the country’s capital has mobilized the people to support war….But more seriously still, it has ensured that we have willingly put aside the right to ask questions and the right to hold institutions accountable. We are so desperate to get rid of the Taliban that we do not want to raise any questions about how this can be done.” It is time to ask some tough questions.

Herman Goering, the head of German Luftwaffe, remarked at Nuremberg trials: “Of course, the people don’t want war….But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along… Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” We have seen how fear can drive a nation to support an illegal war thousands of miles away in case of Iraq invasion. That is why it is necessary that with our high running emotions against Militants and against their brutal acts of terror, we do not forget the importance of transparency, accountability and self-critique.
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Swat Relief: Call out for Doctors, Community health workers, Gynecologists & Nurses

A Severe Health Crisis:

There are 66,000 pregnant women living at the relief camps in Pakistan and many of them are likely to give birth in the next three months, the UN has said. Displaced children need special health and nutrition assistance as well as access to primary and emergency medical care to prevent disease. With the dire conditions, these people are living in there is a serious threat of an epidemic spreading in the camps.

Termed as the worst humanitarian crisis that Pakistan has experienced. UNHCR reports that there are 2.2 million people displaced. Conditions for the conflict areas are a cause of concern since access to water, electricity and health care is extremely limited. Fighting and a general lack of security have disrupted supply chains in Dir, Buner and Swat, making goods – food in particular – scarce and expensive. In addition, frequent curfews make it difficult for people to obtain whatever basic services do happen to be available in their towns and villages. In Mingora, for example, the Swat district’s main hospital is now abandoned and water and electricity have been cut off for over a week.
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Swat Relief Drive – Day 3 – Distribution Day

swat-relief-teamOur Swat Relief drive on Day 3 [Saturday] was hectic to say the least. We [Hasnain, Youshey, me & Faris] left Peshawar around 9am without breakfast, our aim was to start bright and early to first head to Bagheecha Deri where around 150 bags had been delivered a night before stored safely in Inam’s house.

Enroute we received news that the third truck from Makro Lahore was also reaching Mardan and it was then we decided to split our teams, Faris and I continued to Baghecha Deri whilst Youshey and Hasnain would escort the truck to our warehouse in Takht Bhai, oversee the offloading and prepare for the delivery of 250 hampers to refugee families housed within the Takht Bhai region.

Distribution at Bagheecha DeriDespite our insistence, Inam had not assembled a crowd at Bagheecha Deri as we arrived on location town and quickly requested a few local maluvis to announce the availability of relief aid. Within moments we had a small crowd, this being our first experience with distribution we had a small confusion, documentation was needed and we requested only those refugees with an ID card as well as the Yellow social services relief card. In the meley we were worried about locals falsely claiming to be refugees, which was tough but kept to a minimum to the extent that we had to bluntly refuse hampers to a few very vocal and insistent pathans. The other strategy we tried to deploy was to confiscate the ID card and the Yellow refugee registration card until our processing was complete after which a local would carefully distribute these to the rightful owners, this ploy was used to prevent duplication, though locals helping us would quickly identify the offender but there was a chance a sneaky IDP might get through the loop.
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Swat Relief – Day 3 Relief disbursement Pictures

Pictures from Day 3, Saturday 23rd May when we distributed our relief hampers across Mardan, commentary to follow.


Swat Relief Drive Day 2 Pictures

I have uploaded over 180 pictures of our Swat Relief Drive day 2 – I have barely been able to filter / sort / label any of the images and can only promise to get them sorted out once I get back home so until then I leave you to marvel at how bad the refugee situation is

The pictures include images of our food hamper processing, images of those road side refugees that I mentioned in the previous write up, images of our trucks and relief hamper processing, images from the Jalala Camp where you will see abundant pictures of a truck getting ransacked

Best way to follow my progress is through twitter where I hope to post frequent short messages and an occasional images on twitter @DrAwab


Swat Relief Day 1 – Pictures

I share all the 90+pictures that I took on Day-1 of our Swat Relief Drive. It more or less includes the trip to Inam’s village Bagheecha Deri and his farm land in this remote corner of Mardan


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