Pakistan News

Report discusses plight of internally displaced women

Report discusses plight of internally displaced women

ISLAMABAD: A report titled ‘Women and the Fata Conflict: Unfulfilled Promises’ was launched at the Kuch Khaas community centre this Tuesday.

The report, launched by the Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP), focuses on the issues facing women in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.

Speaking at the launch, author Mariam A. Khan said the government must consider women’s needs in these camps, as well as in their native areas.

Khan said that there was a dire need for economic opportunities for women in their native regions. She said that the low literacy rate and the lack of opportunity for skill development have made women completely dependent on male members of the family.

Khan stressed that women must be given Computerized National Identity Cards (CNIC). She quoted an assessment from 2010, which claimed that 85 per cent of Fata women did not have CNICs. This lack of documentation in turn causes problem for women trying to provide for their families.

Khan said that IDP camps were places of anxiety for women due to their lack of documentation, lack of pardah, lax security measures and cases of sexual harassment.

She suggested that government hire women for those who observe pardah (veil), and that camps should be more women-friendly.

“Tents, latrines and washrooms need to be accessible and located in well-lit and secure areas, where women and young girls can feel comfortable,” Khan said.

Khan said that IDP camps were overcrowded, and that one tent could not accommodate three to nine families. In addition, the camps face a water shortage, and waterborne diseases are also on the rise amongst inhabitants.

“The food packets being provided are designed for a ‘nuclear’ family (six members) but in Fata, there are often more than 10 family members,” she added.

Khan said that five million people have been displaced since 2004, and that the number of IDPs reached its peak in 2009.

“Three million people are either in camps, or renting homes in various places,” she said.

The report called for the improvement of security and protection for women both in and outside IDP camps. It states that comprehensive research needs to be conducted on how people displaced by natural disasters have been catered to, as compared to those displaced by conflict. It also called for research into how IDPs from different regions have been assisted.

The report advised the government to draft a national legal framework for IDPs in Pakistan, stating that IDPs must be recognised as citizens with rights and duties.

It also called on United Nations (UN) agencies, and national and international non-governmental organisations (NGO) to advocate an increase to the current assistance packages, stating that the current packages cannot sustain the average family.

The report urged donors to design assistance packages that take into account the real family size and improve pardah for women in IDP camps.

However, the report also said that documentation, education, improved healthcare facilities and urban culture are more accessible to women in IDP camps as opposed to their native regions.

The report also highlighted the need to rehabilitate IDPs traumatised by displacement, and called for the inclusion of psycho-social support in health programmes, particularly for women.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2015

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