Another humanitarian challenge looms for NWA IDPs

* IDPs to be relocated as shelter schools to resume regular classes

ISLAMABAD: The internally displaced persons (IDPs) of the North Waziristan Agency (NWA), already facing humanitarian challenges are bracing for another, one involving their accommodation in the wake of the upcoming resumption of classes at over one thousand schools where IDPs families are sheltered, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The federal and provincial government authorities and the international humanitarian partners are finding it hard to arrange the alternative accommodation where the IDPs are to be shifted to, on account of the end of summer vacations in the schools on August 31, official sources told Daily Times.
The KP Education Department has asked the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) to make arrangements for shifting the IDPs to other locations, citing the preparatory arrangements required to be made in the schools in KP the IDPs families are sheltering in, mainly in Bannu, the sources shared.
Roughly, the officials believe, as many as 280,000 to 300,000 IDPs are living in over 1,400 government schools in Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohat, Peshawar and Lakki Marwat.
“The IDPs have to be shifted to other localities in the coming weeks because the education authorities have asked us to have the IDPs moved. They have to put the schools in order before the classes resumed and that required at least two weeks,” the SAFRON sources quoted the KP’s education authorities as telling the federal officials.
KP’s Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Atif Khan said the KP Education Department needed to make adequate arrangements to resume classes in the schools currently hosting the IDPs families. “The classrooms are in dilapidated condition due to the stay of too many families. The related educational equipment is also largely affected or damaged. These things need to be fixed before the schools reopen for regular classes.”
To a query, the minister said that the provincial government was fully aware of the IDPs plight “that is why we are fully cooperating with federal authorities to arrange alternative accommodation. We are not pushing anything. The IDPs would be moved in a dignified manner and not forcefully evacuated. We hope alternative accommodation would be arranged soon.” The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) Pakistan says the number of schools used as temporary shelter for the IDPs increased from 1,209 to 1,404. Eighty percent of the occupied schools are in Bannu, the UNOCHA says.
Appropriate alternate shelter for the displaced families living in school buildings is needed before August 15 as schools start in September, says the UN humanitarian agency.In a conversation on Tuesday, SAFRON Minister Lieutenant General (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch admitted that shifting the IDPs from schools to other locations was a challenging task. “But it is achievable within the prescribed timeframe. We are in contact with government authorities and the private enterprises and the individuals to hire buildings for the IDPs accommodation. The matter would be solved,” he said, adding that the federal authorities have assured KP government that the schools would be ready for classes in the coming weeks.

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