UNHCR starts distribution of tents to displaced families from Pakistan's South Waziristan

UNHCR starts distribution of tents to families displaced by military operations in Pakistan's South Waziristan and living with hosts in Dera Ismail Khan district.

Desperately Needing Shelter: UNHCR has started distributing tents to people displaced from South Waziristan.  © UNHCR/H.Caux

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, November 9 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency on Monday began distributing tents to families displaced by military operations in northern Pakistan's South Waziristan district. A first group of 126 tents were given to people living with host families in neighbouring Dera Ismail Khan district.

UNHCR, through its implementing partners, hopes on Tuesday to distribute another 1,000 tents in Dera Ismail Khan and 300 in Tank district of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). In total, the agency plans to distribute some 35,000 tents, pending the final number of confirmed registered families. The aid will allow the displaced to pitch tents in the grounds of households which are hosting them, and alleviate overcrowding.

The refugee agency has been distributing relief items such as kitchen sets, jerry cans, quilts and sleeping mats since September to displaced people from South Waziristan. Some 27,900 families (200,300 people) have been assisted so far. Security constraints have led to some intermittent disruptions to aid efforts, but distribution is continuing through local partners.

UNHCR is also supporting the registration of displaced people from South Waziristan which is being carried out by the provincial Social Welfare Department, with help from UNHCR's local NGO partner. Some 355,000 people, comprising some 48,600 families, have now been registered in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank, though only about 175,000 people (or 24,000 families) have yet been verified by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

The verification process is continuing, but, at this stage, early indications suggest almost 20 percent of families could be ineligible due to multiple registrations. A further 10 percent are not verified due to problems with their national ID cards, and another 2 percent are deemed not from areas affected by the military operations.

However, it is important that people who are not verified because they don't have their ID cards or are deemed not from an affected area have the opportunity to seek redress. Grievance desks have been set up at the registration centres to address this issue. As of Monday, a total of 19 cases had been lodged, mostly about lost ID cards or from people waiting to receive an ID card. The NADRA is following up.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, an estimated 1 million people from previous waves of displacement in the north-west remain displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance. This includes some 88,000 people in 10 camps in NWFP, for whom UNHCR is currently preparing a package of extra relief supplies for winter. Also, existing tents will be replaced with all-weather tents to provide extra insulation.

By Ariane Rummery in Islamabad, Pakistan