ISLAMABAD: The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the UN Refugee Agency today launched a project to construct 325 two-room houses for the people of South Waziristan whose dwellings have been damaged during the law enforcement operation in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The houses will be constructed for some of the most vulnerable returnees who are unable to rebuild their damaged homes. With financial support from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, some 1,025 houses will be built in total, worth USD 8.0 million in South Waziristan (SW), Kurram, Bajaur and Mohmand Agencies in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It is expected that the project will be completed by the end of this year.
The agreement was signed in a ceremony that was attended by Chief Engineer Abdullah M. Al-Shoaibi- Technical Department of the Saudi Fund for Development, Mr. Mohammad Nafa Al-Madani the Deputy Ambassador at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Senior Joint Secretary SAFRON, Ms. Tahira Zia, Chief Commissioner for Afghan refugees, Dr. Imran Zeb and UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan, Mr. Neill Wright.
Speaking at the occasion, UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan, Mr. Neill Wright said, that, “People’s lives in the tribal areas have been severely disrupted by security operations and they need help to rebuild and re-establish their normal lives.” He noted that, “The needs of returnees are considerable and at a time when donor support is shrinking due to evolving emergencies across the globe. At such a critical juncture, this SFD funding is highly appreciated. It will make a huge difference in providing solutions to the returnees.”
Since the start of security operations in 2008, over 45,000 people have been displaced from South Warizistan. The first phase of facilitated voluntary return to SWA began in December 2010; since then some 11,899 displaced families have returned in nine phases whilst around 36,000 families remain displaced, residing mainly in Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and Peshawar.
Chief Eng. Abdullah M. Al-Shoaibi added, “The custodian of the two holy mosques, H.R.H King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz is very concerned about the welfare of all Muslims in the world, especially in Pakistan, during periods of disaster and conflict. Therefore, H.R.H. always supports action to help the Pakistani people and this project is one of many launched during the recent years through grants to UN Agencies such as UNHCR and Government Agencies such as ERRA. This assistance is accompanied by other type of financial assistance to help Pakistan in its development efforts.
Commenting on the selection of beneficiaries, the Chief Engineer stated “We can see that these houses are being constructed for all kind of families, especially those families without a male guardian. The selection was based purely upon the needs of those vulnerable families. This project is being followed closely by H.E. Eng. Yousef I. Al-Bassam, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of The Saudi Fund for Development to make certain that its beneficiaries can start living in these houses as soon as possible and without any delay.”
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in different waves of security/military operations carried out across the FATA since 2008. Various needs assessment surveys conducted by UN and the wider humanitarian community indicate that the conflict has had a significant adverse effect on shelters and communal infrastructure in villages in the FATA. In some of the return areas up to 85 per cent of houses have been completely destroyed. Communal infrastructure such as basic health units (BHUs), water sanitation and drainage systems, schools and bridges also remain in a dilapidated state.
In addition to facilitating the construction of the shelters, UNHCR is also helping the government authorities in the return process of the displaced population to many other areas declared safe for return.
UNHCR, as the UN Humanitarian Country Team’s cluster lead for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), emergency shelter, and protection, also supports the temporary accommodation of some 18,617 families (89,181 individuals) in the three IDP camps of Jalozai, Togh Sarai and New Durrani.