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Pakistan displacement update

Briefing notes

Pakistan displacement update

20 May 2009 Also available in:

In north-west Pakistan, thousands of displaced people continue to arrive in camps and to approach registration centres. In Jalozai camp, Nowshera, some 4,000 people have been arriving every day for the past few days. On average, some 100,000 people have been registered daily in the 89 registration points established in Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Peshawar, Kohat and Charsaddda districts of the North West Frontier Province. With reports of thousands of new arrivals in Abottabad, Manshera and Haripur districts, we are planning to help set up more registration centres to ensure speedy access to assistance.

The total number of newly displaced people fleeing Swat, Lower Dir and Buner registered this month is almost 1.5 million (1,454,377). Of these, some 131,000 people are staying in camps, with more than 1.3 million (1,323,427) staying in private accommodation, with host families or friends. Others are being accommodated in schools. They join another half a million people (553,916) registered in NWFP who had fled other parts of the north-west, including the tribal areas, over several months since August 2008.

Given the speed and scale of the new influx, the NWFP Ministry of Social Welfare, with UNHCR's help, is carrying out a 'fast track' registration process to ensure people can get assistance. UNHCR is in discussions with the Emergency Response Unit and the Ministry of Social Welfare of the NWFP government as well as the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) regarding a process to cross-check and verify data in a second stage. This will identify duplicate registrations, inconsistencies and remove people from the earlier influx who may have returned home, such as to Bajaur. A large number of people have no ID at all because they fled in such haste. Discussions are underway with the government on how best to assist them.

Most of the 15 new camps established this month in response to the new influx are already full. There is an urgent need to identify new sites and establish new camps. In the district of Swabi, UNHCR field teams are preparing more land adjacent to the Shah Mansoor camp, run by the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, and currently hosting 10,500 people. Tents have been pitched, a portable warehouse erected and other relief items are being brought to the site today (Wednesday) in preparation to receive more people.

Elsewhere in Swabi district, our field teams in Yar Hussein camp report more and more women arriving alone with their children. The women say their husbands are staying behind in their villages to take care of cattle and crops. The camp currently hosts some 5,500 displaced people. The high temperatures are affecting people living in camps, especially the children. We are urgently sourcing materials to provide shade cloth to people in camps to help them cope with the heat.

In Mardan district, our field teams have assessed 457 schools where thousands of displaced people are being accommodated. Yesterday (Tuesday), we began distribution of relief items to people staying in schools and will continue this today and in the coming days. Today (Wednesday), our field teams are carrying out assessments of the spontaneous settlements located around Mardan in order to better respond to the needs of the displaced.

UNHCR is planning to step up its assistance to displaced people staying in host families in the near future, and is urgently procuring more relief supplies. The displaced have little prospect of renting accommodation, and in Swabi and Mardan in particular, host families are becoming oversaturated with the continuing flow of new arrivals. Hence the urgency to identify new sites and establish more camps.