The humanitarian community in Pakistan is facing a fund crunch which could well result in suspension of some of the ongoing relief work for the 1.3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in the next couple of months.
This grim picture of the displacement crisis in the far-flung regions of the country was painted by representatives of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Food Programme, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) on Monday.
After its annual launch in February, the Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan has attracted only 20 per cent of the required $537 million. This is in sharp contrast to the corresponding period last year when 40 per cent of the required funding was in by April.
Part of the problem, according to the Humanitarian Coordinator for Pakistan, Martin Mogwanja, lies in the fact that this time round much of the IDPs are from tribal agencies like Orakzai and Kurram where access is difficult even for nationals. In 2009, the displacement crisis was in the relatively more accessible Swat region of NWFP as a result of which media reportage was greater.
Lamenting the inadequate response, Mr. Mogwanja said some projects and programmes may have to be suspended for lack of funds. In fact, some projects were closed in March and new programmes planned to facilitate the return of IDPs to their homes might not get off the ground if funds only trickle in.
This year, the displacement crisis in Pakistan has to compete for funds with the humanitarian aid requirements of Haiti after the devastating earthquake. With many donor countries having fixed budgets for humanitarian aid, Haiti appears to have walked away with the lion's share because of the sheer visibility of the crisis there. Add to this the global recession of the previous year which forced many a nation - battling negative growth - to tighten their purse strings.
Though 1.9 million IDPs have returned home, there are still over a million displaced civilians with people continuing to flee their homes due to ongoing hostilities in parts of FATA. Most are staying in rented accommodation or with host communities. Still, of the 1.3 million IDPs, a lakh are housed in 10 camps across NWFP. Besides, a new camp is being constructed in Hangu to cope with the latest influx of IDPs from the Orakzai Agency where much of the security operations are focused presently in what is being billed by aid organisations as Pakistan's forgotten crisis.