Razan Rashidi, communication officer with UNICEF in Damascus, describes how ordinary people have become essential partners to international organisations who are responding to the crisis. Thousands of people have had to leave their homes to seek refuge in safer places, often schools and mosques. By last weekend, at least 15 schools in Damascus and 18 more in outlying areas were housing displaced families. Some people have taken displaced families into their own homes, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for local residents to meet their own needs, let along those of their guests. Conditions in the local schools and mosques are not easy, either, and even young children are stepping up to help.
Tag Archives for "IDPs"
Elizabeth Kiem is the online editor for unicefusa.org.
Homeless within their own countries and through no fault of their own, more than 27 million people became internally displaced persons, or IDP’s, in 2009. It is the highest number recorded in more than a decade; and a rise of 10 million since 1997.
This week’s Thursday video tells just one story about the struggles of those made most vulnerable by displacement. It’s families like that of Queemat Baha, who were among the hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes in the Swat Valley of Pakistan one year ago during an offensive against the Taliban.
Pakistanis were disproportionately affected by displacement last year. Three million people were uprooted during the spring offensive, and while most have returned home, they live a fragile existence.The U.N. Refugee Committee (UNHCR) has helped families like Queemat’s build new shelters but can’t replace all that she has lost.
UNICEF is also on the ground in Pakistan, providing immunization and other health services and prepositioning supplies in anticipation of continued violence and displacement.
The IDP figures were reported this week by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) for the U.N.
John Holmes, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said the very term IDP fails to “come close to doing justice to the truly awful experience of being displaced – disoriented, traumatized, confused, fearful, disempowered, dependent, helpless.”
Remaining pockets of violence, millions of Internally Displaced Peoples, massive human rights violations and a lack of basic social services severely hinder the efforts of Gill and other aid workers. “Humanitarian access is limited,” said Gill, “because there is virtually no infrastructurea wooden bicycle used to transfer goods to market is about as advanced as it gets.” Gill and her colleagues also face a constant security risk and must take daily precautions against attacks
Only a few days have passed since we last checked in on the growing crisis in Pakistan, but those few days have been enough time to change thousands of lives. In the month of May alone, more people have been displaced in Pakistan than were displaced over 3 years in Darfur.
Since August of last year, conflict between pro-Taliban militants and Pakistan’s government forces has seethed in Pakistan’s northwest frontier region. Over the last month, as fighting has intensified, the number of people who have fled their homes has swollen to 2.4 million. That’s the single largest movement of people in Pakistan since the partition that created the country.
Most frightening of all, it’s estimated that 65% of the displaced are children.
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