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A plea for Bara IDPs — by Farhat Taj

The IDPs request the government to open vocational centres in the camp for training in employable skills like carpentry, masonry, welding, electrical wiring, plumbing, etc. The IDPs also request for vocational centres for income generation and skill development purposes for the women IDPs, like embroidery and tailoring

There are about 4,000 registered and 1,300 unregistered Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Bara, Khyber Agency, living in Jalozai camp in Nowshera. About 700 more unregistered IDPs who are staying with relatives or in rented houses outside Bara also want to come to the camp because either they cannot afford the high rents or do not wish to become a burden on their relatives who are also poor. All these people became displaced since the ongoing military operation started in Bara against the militant group led by Mangal Bagh.

I had a chance to interact with some of the IDPs. They inform that several IDPs have had their body parts amputated and now need immediate help to restart a normal life. One of them is Misri Khan, a 25-year old young man, who had both his arms amputated. There are about 30 handicapped IDPs who immediately need wheelchairs. One of them is Abdul Rehman. He needs a wheelchair, as both his legs are handicapped. There is also a 13-year-old orphan boy who had his leg injured in the military operation a month ago. He never had proper medical care and now a camp doctor informed that his wound has become cancerous. There is another young man who received a bullet on his left side four months ago during the military operation. He is now paralysed and completely on his bed in the Familo part of the Jalozai camp. He urgently needs medical care and medicine. There are several IDPs suffering from hepatitis C and various kinds of cancer. In fact, all of these IDPs need immediate medical help and would welcome such help from anywhere.

There are many other sick IDPs — men, women and children. They need medicine that the health units in the camp do not have. They have been asked by the camp health staff to buy medicine. The IDPs simply do not have the money to buy the medicines.

There is no electricity in the camps, where about 100,000 people from different areas of FATA live. Only a few toilets have electricity. The harsh summer is approaching and the IDPs request for fans and electricity in the tents.

Many IDPs have suffered losses to their properties during the operation. One IDP said he had a grocery shop in Bara bazaar and this was his only source of income. During the curfew hours, someone looted his shop. He says he does not know whom should he hold responsible for his loss — the Taliban linked with the Mangal Bagh group or the security forces, who imposed a curfew but could not prevent looting.

Ninety percent of women IDPs do not have National Identity Cards (NICs). They rejected the notion that the tribesmen do not allow their women to make NICs. They say many of them have been poor before the operation and have become even poorer due to their material losses in the operation in Bara. The transport fares are high and they cannot afford the expenses of travel from the camp in Nowshera to the NADRA office in Hayatabad, Peshawar. Therefore, they request that a mobile NADRA team be sent to the camp to record the necessary information about the women IDPs and issue them NICs.

Some of the IDPs are not satisfied with the education imparted to their children in the camp school. They say their children had a better standard of education in the local schools in Bara. They are deeply concerned about the educational future of their children, if the current insecurity in Bara is prolonged.

The government has given ATM cards to IDPs from other parts of FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The same cards have not been given to the Bara IDPs. They request the government to give them ATM cards at the earliest.

There are many young men in the camp who aimlessly roam around the camp every single day. They have no jobs or any job-related skills. Their parents are afraid that the Taliban may allure these young men into their ranks. The Taliban offer money, weapons and power, and temptation generated by the three may be irresistible for many young men surrounded by unemployment and hopelessness. Therefore, the IDPs request the government to open vocational centres in the camp for training in employable skills like carpentry, masonry, welding, electrical wiring, plumbing, etc. The IDPs also request for vocational centres for income generation and skill development purposes for the women IDPs, like embroidery and tailoring.

They request philanthropists and NGOs all over Pakistan to help with foodstuff, necessary items of daily use and medicine, especially necessary medical aid to the needy patients and wheelchairs for the handicapped IDPs. They also request the government for some help from the Zakat funds.

The IDPs inform that Hamidullah Afridi, the MNA from Khyber Agency, arranged for 300 bags of wheat flour for the Bara IDPs. They appreciate the MNA’s effort, but insist that much more help is needed and they expect their MNA to keep working in this regard.

The people of Bara in Khyber Agency, like people from elsewhere in FATA, are paying the price of the state policy of strategic depth in Afghanistan. They have become homeless and now live in miserable conditions in the overcrowded Jalozai camp. I would request the people across Pakistan to do whatever they can, like they did for the Swat IDPs, to bring some normalcy in the lives of the Bara IDPs.

The writer is a research fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Oslo, and a member of Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy. She can be reached at bergen34@yahoo.com

Source: Daily Times