IDP camps

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IDPs (Internally displaced people) of Pakistan were uprooted from their homes during War on Terror and Pakistan military operation in FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwah. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan have been the focal point of the US-led war on terror in Pakistan since 2001. The fierce fighting between Pakistan’s military and non-state militant groups in FATA and PATA regions has resulted in one of the biggest internal displacements of people in the history of Pakistan. The local communities had no alternative except to become IDPs to escape from indiscriminate killings labelled as “collateral damage”. According to an estimate, nearly three million inhabitants from FATA and KPK had moved to take refuge in the IDP camps or host communities by the end of 2009. The state and humanitarian organizations responded to this grave humanitarian issue as long as the media attention was there but later as the media focus shifted away, these people were left grappling with poverty and lack of basic needs. 

We visited the IDP camps several times during 2012 and 2015, witnessed the destitution of the IDPs and had an opportunity to listen to the horrific eyewitness accounts of the IDPs. IDPs criticized the counter-terrorism strategy of the Pakistan military within the tribal community as the military had used heavy ground and air weapons in operation in civilian areas, resulting in enormous civilian deaths. The indiscriminate killing due to Jet bombing and ground weapons along with casualties due to suicide bombings had wide ramifications on the socio-political, economic and security situation of the area. It is important to remember that the military operations were going on in the FATA along with US Drone strikes which resulted in 98% civilian casualties and achieved two % “high-value targets” according to Stanford University research. 

In addition to the physical ordeal of witnessing war and military operations, our team was shocked to see the level of the psychological impact of the war on the people. Our research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in victims of war and military operations can be watched in our documentary “Suffering in Silence” which is a detailed account of the chemistry between war and terrorism in FATA and its impact on Pakistan.

Most of the IDPs have returned to their native areas now, but the long-term PTSD and loss of an academic decade for a whole generation can be seen reflected in the population. It was sad that a community that was known for not having any beggars is now witnessing a large number of disabled beggars, these are the people who survived the military operation but had life-changing injuries. There is a large number of economically dependent widows who have lost their breadwinners due to war, and the huge influx of child labours in the labour market is the direct result of the death of the breadwinners of the families.
Author – Aisha Ghazi (Founder – iResist)