The humanitarian crisis of Swat’s Internally Displaced People – Omar Foundation

Further to my earlier note on how to help those forced to become refugees in their own land – the largest internal displacement ever in Pakistan as the army finally takes action against the Taliban – see appeal below sent by a journalist friend in Karachi. Rashida Dohad, also an old friend, works with OAK Foundation – http://www.oakdf.org.pk (‘Donate’ link  – http://www.oakdf.org.pk/links/donate.htm)
Also see IDP Wiki page at http://sarelief.com
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: sahar <sahar@panossouthasia.org>
Date: Mon, May 18, 2009 at 10:56 PM
Subject: The humanitarian crisis of the Internally Displaced People of Swat – please support Omar Foundation

Dear Friends and Family,

This evening I attended a briefing by Ali Asghar Khan, Chairman of the Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation, at the Sindh Club. Ali had been invited by Karachi’s concerned citizens – concerned about the humanitarian crisis unfolding rapidly in the wake of the war to crush the Taliban uprising in Swat – to talk about what was happening, and how Karachi-ites could help.

Omar Foundation’s solid credentials as an organization working to create space for the poor to engage in the democratic process, were established in the wake of the 2005 earthquake, when alongside their systematic relief efforts, they organized earthquake survivors to articulate their needs and express them in the policy arena, in a bid to make earthquake rehabilitation policy responsive to people’s needs and priorities.

While Omar Foundation’s base is in Hazara, their experience of organizing the community – through village committees – to take responsibility of the task of distribution of relief supplies to people who most needed them – qualifies them to deliver similar services for the efficient distribution of relief supplies to the hundreds of thousands of families fleeing Swat to peaceful parts of NWFP.

This is a humanitarian crisis of immense magnitude, as confirmed by the UN. And the most alarming aspect, as Ali pointed out earlier this evening, is that the media is portraying just the tip of the iceberg. “Eight-five (85) percent of the displaced population is not in the camps,” revealed Ali. They are being hosted in people’s homes, as many as 15 to a small room. Schools are overflowing with between 200 to 1500 people, without adequate – often non-existent – facilities for housing these families.

Omar Foundation’s ‘adopt-a-school’ programme will seek to establish committees among the people living in schools to undertake the task of management, establishing services and distribution of relief goods. “All distribution will be through these committees, that will be made up of the people themselves,” Ali said.

Speaking on the occasion, Ishaq, who fled Swat some months ago after his name was announced on the Taliban radio channel with a death warrant, and will be working with Omar Foundation to organize the displaced populations, said: “Our people are worse-off than farm animals.” He added that the 100-year-old infrastructure of Swat had been destroyed. “We were against the provincial government’s deal with the Taliban,” he said. But he and others, who have fled the area with their families in the wake of the army operation, are now afraid to speak out against the provincial government, the army, or the Taliban. Ali explained that there is a palpable sense of insecurity among the people, which he sensed when he recently toured the schools in Mardan where the IDPs are languishing.

It is this insecurity that needs to be dealt with, after the immediate need of providing food, healthcare, sanitation, and education facilities to the IDPs has been addressed. “Our nation may not get this chance again. We have to be there for them [the IDPs],” said Ali. He added that model systems of justice, healthcare, education and other basic needs have to be created to ensure that the vacuum being currently created through the operation, will be filled and not allow the Taliban to re-group and re-surface. Ali said the common refrain is, “The Taliban are like water.” You flush them from one area, and they will simply flow to another. It is this feeling of insecurity that needs to be addressed if peace and the IDPs are to return to Swat.

For now, the need of the hour is to provide immediate relief for the disease and despair that is spreading rapidly. People need nutritious food, water for drinking and washing, toilets, bedding, utensils, medicines and medical services, clothing, sanitary goods, education, and sanitation.

Omar Foundation has taken on the responsibility of organizing these facilities and services for three schools in one of the poorest Union Councils in Mardan (where people who are hosting these families are so poor, that they can barely afford the hospitality now, let alone on a long term basis).

“Some schools need toilets, others need kitchens, a sewage system, fans,” explained Ali.

Please support the Omar Foundation’s efforts to provide immediate relief and more sustained basic services to the people of Swat who need our support. They have sacrificed their homes so that the rest of Pakistan may live without fear of the Taliban.

Donations can be sent to:
Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation
Current Account # 0030445261000455
MCB Bank (1028)
Super Market, Islamabad
Pakistan
SWIFT Code MUCBPKKAMCC

Tax exemption # 6043/RTO/ATD/2008-09 dated 12 May 2009

Please email details including name, address and amount for acknowledgment to info@oakdf,org.pk

Tel +92 512611092 – 4
Mob +92 300 8565279

PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS WIDELY. THIS ISN’T A MATTER OF DAYS OR WEEKS. IT COULD TAKE MONTHS, EVEN YEARS. DONATE GENEROUSLY AND CONSISTENTLY.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: