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- Bhai Ranjit Singh (Jathedar Sri Akal Takht Sahib)

When Will Aid Arrive? - Urgent Help Needed for Pakistan IDPs

June 26, 2009
Source: United Sikhs

"“The humanitarian aid pledged by the USA and the European Union has not reached the camps yet. The Pakistan government and UN agencies are struggling to maintain humane conditions at the IDP camps,” said Mr Iftikhar Durrani, CEO of Pakistan’s National Trust For Population Welfare.

"United Sikhs needs to raise $117,514 USD to provide immediate humanitarian relief to IDPs from the Swat Valley who are living in poor conditions. We request the public to donate generously to provide the most vulnerable children and women IDPs with immediate life-saving humanitarian and advocacy support," said Kuldip Singh, President United Sikhs-USA. For a full list of IDP needs that we would like to meet click here

Islamabad, Pakistan: Pakistan’s Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the 19 camps and at the Sikh shrine, Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Hassan Abdal, are in urgent need of help for better food, medical care and protection from the sweltering heat, according to information received by the United Sikhs team members who visited IDPs this week. While various countries have pledged funds for IDP relief, the aid has yet to reach the camps. The United Sikhs Aid Team believes it must engage in immediate relief efforts to improve the living conditions in the camps, whilst the IDPs wait on Western aid pledges to reach them. Watch a video clip of interviews with IDPs here.

IDPs began to flee from the Swat valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), in May 2009, in response to Pakistan army’s military operation against the Taliban. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported that over 2.5 million people are displaced by this conflict, which has stretched the much needed humanitarian resources in Pakistan.

AT THE SCENE

The United Sikhs Aid team has surveyed the immediate needs of the Pakistan IDPs and identified urgent requirements at the 19 IDP camps and the Gurdwara IDP sites at Panja Sahib, Hasan Abdal and Baba Joga Singh Gurdwara in Peshawar. For a full list of IDP needs we would like to meet click here.

“The humanitarian aid pledged by the USA and the European Union has not reached the camps yet and the Pakistan government and UN agencies are struggling to maintain humane conditions in the camps,“ said Mr Iftikhar Durrani, CEO of Pakistan’s National Trust For Population Welfare, told United Sikhs.

“The government hopes that it will be safe for the IDPs to return to their homes in the Swat valley in 20 days, even though there is no certainty that it will happen so soon,” Mr Iftikhar added, emphasizing the need for immediate relief.
"The situation here is just appalling. There is no clean water, no cooking facilities and a lack of toilets,” said Tariq Ahmad, who, with his family of twelve, is based at the Mardaan camp, 100 km from Islamabad, with some 7000 other displaced people.

The United Sikhs Aid team from USA and UK distributed urgent relief supplies to 4000 IDPs at Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Hasan Abdal, this week and plans are being finalized to provide medical assistance especially to female IDPs in the camps at Mardaan (7000 IDPs) and Charsadda (7,000 IDPs). The United Sikhs team plans to visit Baba Joga Singh Gurdwara in Peshawar and more IDP camps in the coming week.

"UNITED SIKHS needs to raise $117,514 USD to provide immediate humanitarian relief to IDPs from the Swat Valley who are living in poor conditions. We request the public to donate generously to provide the most vulnerable children and women IDPs with immediate life-saving humanitarian and advocacy support", said Kuldip Singh, President of United Sikhs-USA. For a full list of IDP needs that we would like to meet click here.

"I am thankful to United Sikhs for offering the most needed humanitarian supplies and assistance to the displaced people" said Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Welfare Minister for Population of Pakistan, who met the United Sikhs team.

Dr Suaran Singh, the IDP camp coordinator at Gurdwara Panja Sahib, told United Sikhs, "To supplement the dal and roti (bread and lentils meals) provided to 4000 IDPs at Panja Sahib by the WAKF Board (government agency), we need additional food supplies to meet the IDPs’ daily needs for at least the next 20 days. I am thankful to the United Sikhs relief team for the milk and other food supplies we received today for pregnant women, children and elders.”

United Sikhs has also identified the need to provide advocacy assistance to IDPs who had settled in Pakistan as refugees from Afghanistan.

“Our team met a widow, Ms Kour, whose husband was killed by militants in Peshawar. She had taken refuge in Pakistan, with her daughter, during the Soviet- Afghan war in 1979. Today she is facing a second migration and is not eligible for aid because she is technically not an IDP as she is expected to return to Afghanistan, where she fears she is not safe,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, United Sikhs legal director, who is studying Ms Kour’s case for migration to a ‘safe’ country.

IMMEDIEATE FOOD SUPPLIES

  1. The IDP Coordinator at Panja Sahib has requested for 20 days of food supplies for 500 families (4000 IDPs) in addition to the bread and lentils meals provided at Panja Sahib by the WAKF Board (Government agency).
  2. United Sikhs has provided relief supplies for 1 week at Panja Sahib. We seek donations to meet the needs for another 20 days at 19 IDP camps and 2 Gurdwara IDP sites.

Total funds needed immediately: $117,514 USD. Donate at www.unitedsikhs.org/donate or by posting a cheque to a United Sikhs office nearest to you. See http://www.unitedsikhs.org/contact.php


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