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Ongoing Response
Balochistan Earthquake 2013

Two powerful earthquakes measuring 7.7 and 6.8 on the Richter scale hit Balochistan Province, south-western Pakistan, on 24 and 28 September 2013 respectively. According to the Government of Pakistan, the earthquakes killed 376 people and have affected at least 200,000 people.
According to the Government, Awaran, Kech, Kharan, Panjgur, Washuk and Gwadar districts have been affected. Awaran and Kech districts have been hit the hardest and have therefore been prioritized for humanitarian response.
Complex Emergency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA

Humanitarian partners are providing assistance to more than 1 million people who remain displaced across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as a result of ongoing insecurity since 2008. Conflict in north-western Pakistan has displaced over 4 million people since 2008, of whom 3 million have returned home.
Between March and June 2013, an escalation of hostilities displaced some 140,000 people from FATA, and in June and July, 67,000 people returned to safe areas in FATA. Humanitarian partners provided return packages including transport, food, non-food items and basic services. Partners are monitoring ongoing returns to ensure they are voluntary, safe, dignified and in accordance with humanitarian principles.
Monsoon 2013

Heavy monsoon rains experienced in August 2013 have triggered flash floods and caused widespread losses and damage across the country. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reports the monsoon rains have affected nearly 1.5 million people, 1.45 acres of crops and damaged or destroyed nearly 80,000 houses, as of 9 September 2013
Punjab and Sindh provinces are most affected. Government authorities, supported by humanitarian partners, are providing assistance in the flood-affected areas.
Monsoon 2012

Floods occurred in Pakistan in September 2012, affecting more than 5 million people. Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh provinces were the hardest hit, with some districts inundated with floodwaters for the third consecutive year. The floods affected more than 1 million acres of crops, damaged over 460,000 houses and ruined basic infrastructure.
The UN and its humanitarian partners are supporting the Government in providing assistance to the affected people in the hardest hit districts in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh provinces.

IRIN on Pakistan

Polio to be wiped out globally this year: WHO

Fri, 05 Aug 2016 09:15:22 +0000

Huma Shazif had just vaccinated five children against polio in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar when the gunmen attacked. They sped off on a motorbike as her colleague lay dying on the ground after being shot in the abdomen, while she was hit three times in the leg.

"It was painful,” she told IRIN. “I had never even thought that militants could attack us just for administering polio drops to children.”

The attack in February last year has not deterred Shazif. She is back at work vaccinating children in Pakistan, which along with Afghanistan remains one of only two countries left in the world where polio is endemic.

Over the past few years, half a billion doses of vaccine have been given each year to Afghan and Pakistani children, and the World Health Organization says we are now in the final stretches of the global battle against polio.

“The polio virus cannot survive under this pressure, and it’s a done deal now – the virus will be interrupted both in Pakistan and Afghanistan by the end of this year,” Dr. Michel Thieren, the WHO representative in Pakistan, told IRIN.

Even if polio is wiped out by the end of 2016, the world will have to wait until the end of 2019 before eradication can be declared as there have to be no new cases for three years. The only human disease ever to have been eradicated was smallpox, in 1980.

Dangerous missions

The main reason the disease persists is that militants often attack health workers and block them from going to areas under their control.

In Afghanistan, insecurity prevented health workers from carrying out vaccinations of 385,000 children this year and 15 vaccinators were abducted, according to a report published last week by the UN.

"It’s a done deal now – the virus will be interrupted both in Pakistan and Afghanistan by the end of this year"

In Pakistan, 91 health workers and security personnel guarding vaccination teams have been killed since 2012, according to Rana Muhammad Safdar, a coordinator at the National Emergency Operation Centre for Polio in the capital, Islamabad.

“The frontline workers are our real heroes in fight against polio,” he said.

Despite risks to health workers, the vaccination campaign has been successful, as illustrated by the rapid decrease in reported cases over the past few years. So far this year, Pakistan has found 13 cases of polio, compared to 54 last year and 306 in 2014, according to data collected by the NEOCP.

Afghanistan has reported only six cases this year, and all of them were contracted by children living in areas “under the influence” of militant groups, the UN report said.

Thieren said that if polio is eliminated from Pakistan by the end of this year, Afghanistan will also become a polio-free country as the virus won’t be able to survive in its scattered population. 

Conspiracy theories

Attacks, threats, and intimidation from militant groups aren’t the only reasons the vaccination process has been slow in Pakistan. Despite the risk that their children could die or become paralysed by polio, many parents refused to vaccinate them as rumours spread that vaccination campaigns were ploys by Western intelligence agencies to spy on or even to sterilise people.

Related: Polio hopes and Zika fears in the vaccine race

The conspiracy theories gained credence in 2011. That’s when Pakistan arrested a doctor on charges that he worked with the CIA to organise a fake vaccination campaign as part of an attempt to obtain DNA from family members of Osama bin Laden, in order to confirm his presence in Abbottabad.

“In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the immunisation was initially perceived as a Western-imposed intervention, but this notion has been overcome now with [the] help of imams and community leaders,” said Thieren.

The government convened a National Islamic Advisory Group that has worked with the Islamic Advisory Group for Polio Eradication, an international organisation, to dispel rumours and encourage people to get vaccinated.

These efforts have seen parents’ refusal rates for vaccinations drop from 3 percent in 2014 to 0.05 percent in 2016, according to Safdar of the NEOCP.

Final frontiers

Until last year, vaccination teams had no access to parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which border Afghanistan, said Safdar.

The military has now finished operations that pushed militant groups out of FATA or broke their control over some regions.

Safdar said the number of children inaccessible to vaccination teams has fallen from more than 600,000 to 2,500 in parts of Khyber Agency and North Waziristan.

One of those now working to vaccinate children in Khyber Agency is Shazif, who has recovered from the February 2014 attack that killed her colleague.

“It’s a dangerous job to administer polio drops to children, but I’m doing it for the sake of my nation,” she said.

(TOP PHOTO: Members of a polio vaccination team transport vaccines in Afghanistan's Kunar Province. Credit: J. Jalali/WHO)


polio_3.jpg News Aid and Policy Conflict Health Polio to be wiped out globally this year: WHO IRIN Pakistan vaccination teams defy militant attacks to keep eradication on course ISLAMABAD Asia Pakistan

Pakistanis displaced by war return to a ruined economy

Thu, 21 Jul 2016 12:12:55 +0000

The Bara Market was once a bustling hive of about 10,000 shops. Now it’s a listless wreckage of rubble, and a reminder of the destruction that the war between Pakistan’s government and militant groups has inflicted on the economy in this region on the Afghanistan border.

Pakistan’s military launched an offensive in October 2014 against militant groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, seven semi-autonomous districts strung along the country’s northwestern frontier. The conflict displaced more than 300,000 families, but the government says the main military operations are over and people can now return home.

Just over half of the displaced families have returned since March 2015 and 43,302 of those came back this year, according to the latest update by the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA. Many returnees say they have come home only to find they have few opportunities to rebuild their lives, as the war has destroyed the local economy.

“We are living a miserable life as we have no capital to start our business again,” said Aamir Faheem in an interview in his house in the village of Piple Garhi, which was badly damaged during fighting. 

Related: Is Pakistan going to send Afghan refugees home?

His family used to run a flourishing cosmetics and clothing business in Bara Market, which is about 15 kilometres from the city of Peshawar on the road that runs to the Torkham border crossing. Before the war, the shop brought in as much as 200,000 rupees ($1,907) per month. But the family has now spent all their savings renting a house in Peshawar, where they fled when the fighting began.

“The government hasn’t provided us enough assistance even for reconstruction of our home and we are forced to live under open sky,” said Faheem. “We are happy to see our area free of militants, but the government should now take steps to rebuild the Bara Market and revive the local economy.”

Aamir Saeed/IRIN
Aamir Faheed with bricks he plans to use to repair his home, which was damaged by fighting in Piple Garhi, a village in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas

Government assistance

Shah Nasir Khan, an Infrastructure and resilience specialist at the FATA Secretariat, said the government does have a plan to rebuild Bara Market with updated facilities, including water, sewers, and solar lights. He said reconstruction would begin “soon”, but did not provide a date.

Khan told IRIN that the government has allocated 550 million rupees ($5.2 million) for small loans for traders to start their businesses again, and it will begin distributing the loans in a couple of months. 

"The government should open a vocational training centre in the area for youth, to ensure they can find suitable jobs in the factories and don’t slip again into hands of the militants"

The government has also disbursed $48 million in transport and return grants as of 1 July, according to the OCHA update. Families received 10,000 rupees ($96) to pay for transport home, and 25,000 rupees ($241) to help them resettle.

Returnees say the government assistance is not nearly enough to rebuild their homes and businesses.

“What the government has given us so far is just a peanut,” said Fawad Shah, whose three-room home was completely destroyed. “We can’t build even a wall of a room with this amount, let alone restart our businesses.”

Border troubles

The FATA economy traditionally benefitted from the free flow of goods over the border, but Pakistan is implementing new restrictions to end that unofficial trade.

“The traders now won’t be allowed to smuggle goods and illegal drugs from Afghanistan, for these crimes help breed militants,” said Khan, of the FATA Secretariat.

Factory jobs could provide an alternative to businesses dependent on cross border trade, but conditions are not ideal there either.

Aamir Saeed/IRIN
The Bara Market near Peshawar was destroyed by fighting between Pakistan's military and insurgents

Before the military operation began, more than 100 factories operated in a tax free zone in Khyber Agency, producing textiles and vegetable oil. Many of them were gutted during the fighting, but some have started working again.

Faheem’s two younger brothers have started working in a textile factory and are earning 12,000 rupees ($114) per month as non-skilled workers. That’s less than half the wage earned by skilled labourers, who are mostly recruited from Punjab Province.

“The government should open a vocational training centre in the area for youth, to ensure they can find suitable jobs in the factories and don’t slip again into hands of the militants,” said Sultan Mahmood, who owns an old textile factory in Piple Garhi.

Looming hunger

As FATA residents struggle to rebuild their lives, many have little or no money to feed themselves and they are receiving short-term food assistance from the World Food Programme.

“The WFP has been providing relief food assistance to returnees for a period of six months after their return,” said Mahira Afzal, a WFP communications  officer in Islamabad. 

Neither the government nor WFP were able to provide information about a longer-term strategy for feeding victims of the conflict who are unable to find work.

“The real challenge for the returnees will begin when the WFP ration scheme expires,” said Kamran Khan, whose family returned home two months ago. “These days, we are desperately looking for jobs in our area, but in vain.”


(TOP PHOTO:  Asad Sher weaves cloth on an old power loom in a textile factory in Piple Garhi. Aamir Saeed/IRIN)

fata_1.jpg News Aid and Policy Migration Conflict Politics and Economics Pakistanis return to a ruined economy Aamir Saeed IRIN PIPLE GARHI Pakistan Asia Pakistan

Situation Reports and Updates

15-Oct-2013Humanitarian Bulletin Pakistan Issue 19 | 16 September – 15 October 2013Download
15-Sep-2013Humanitarian Bulletin Pakistan: Issue 18 | 16 August – 15 September 2013Download
13-Sep-2013MONSOON UPDATE Issue 8 | 7 - 13 September 2013Download
06-Sep-2013MONSOON UPDATE Issue 7 | 31 August - 6 September 2013Download
30-Aug-2013MONSOON UPDATE Issue 6 | 24 August - 30 August 2013Download
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