- Consolidation of OCHA’s presence in-country with re-establishment of fully functioning OCHA office in Islamabad, a sub-office in Peshawar and an antenna office in Buner, Swat district.
- Assisted with establishing the HCT.
- Supported the development and revision of a Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (PHRP) for 2009, outlining requirements for $680 million, and worked closely with humanitarian and donor communities to secure 79 per cent of PHRP funding.
With an OCHA office reestablished in Islamabad and a sub-office in Peshawar, OCHA’s humanitarian activities in Pakistan continued to focus on meeting needs in the main conflict zones, particularly the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), as Government forces continued to battle insurgents. While the ebbing of violence in some regions enabled large-scale returns of IDPs to home areas, the unpredictable military situation and the sudden population movements triggered by the fighting stretched the planning capacity and resources of humanitarian actors and the Government.
Access to target populations was seriously compromised by continued insecurity. Missions to NWFP were regularly cancelled due to credible security threats. In 2009, 12 United Nations employees were killed and 12 injured in various terrorist attacks. This gradually caused the United Nations and wider humanitarian community to lower their operational profile. Security concerns meant that international United Nations staff traveled daily to Peshawar to meet with the provincial Government and other counterparts, while unmarked cars were used for needs assessments and meetings in D.I. Khan, Swat and Mohmand Agency. OCHA and the United Nations Department of Safety and Security conducted security reviews on the ground prior to any inter-cluster assessment missions.
Given these constraints, there was a clear need for Government help in improving access. OCHA facilitated regular meetings with federal and provincial authorities, while engaging in a strong advocacy campaign, focusing on areas where needs were most acute. The result was improved access during 2009. For example, OCHA led several missions to D.I. Khan and Tank, the hosting districts for IDPs from South Waziristan.
Furthermore, two OCHA-led missions went to Kohat and Hangu, the two hosting districts for IDPs from Orakzai. These missions enabled OCHA to assess the situation on the ground and determine what assistance was needed. Reports based on the missions were widely disseminated within the humanitarian community and formed the basis for decisions on securing a timely and adequate response to the affected population’s needs.
Due to the security situation, the opening of a planned satellite office in Daggar, the main town of Buner district in NWFP, was postponed. But OCHA strengthened its presence in Swat, looking to cover Buner and Lower Dir districts from Swat.
OCHA facilitated the return of IDPs to Malakand Division in the NWFP after the Government judged the area safe. The returns began in July, although some humanitarian organizations voiced concern about the Government’s ability to guarantee the returnees’ safety. The process was successful: by the end of 2009 almost 1.7 million of the 2.7 million IDPs had returned to their homes in Malakand Division.
Improved coordination of humanitarian structures remained a key priority. Given the immense complexities of the response, a dedicated HC for Pakistan was appointed and took over leadership of the HCT. Weekly HCT meetings were held, common strategic issues were developed and common policies related to humanitarian action were agreed.
During the height of the emergency, weekly situation reports were produced at the HCT’s request. The Public Information Unit ensured regular, high-quality reporting during the displacement crisis, providing analytical data and information used as the baseline for information among humanitarian stakeholders. OCHA developed and produced high-quality mapping during the peak months of the crisis.
When the OCHA office was established in April 2009, the cluster system was not structured properly, which meant a lack of proper coordination between United Nations agencies, and national and international NGOs. With the introduction of the 12 clusters, OCHA laid the foundation for a well-coordinated response. Each individual cluster met once a week to discuss the needs of IDPs in NWFP and FATA, and the appropriate humanitarian response.
OCHA organized an Inter-Cluster Diagnostic Mission that made recommendations on how to improve the cluster system. OCHA further ensured that the terms of reference for all humanitarian meetings and fora were developed and observed. Gaps and needs in the clusters were identified and addressed.
OCHA worked closely with donors, keeping them regularly briefed on ongoing humanitarian requirements. OCHA took on a high profile advocacy role on behalf of the wider humanitarian community to ensure that regular external support was forthcoming through 2009. Such efforts ultimately saw the PHRP for 2009 funded by 79 per cent.
The consolidated efforts of OCHA Headquarters, Regional Office and the field helped secure a pledge of $100 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the humanitarian response as part of a much wider financial contribution to relief/development efforts in Pakistan.
OCHA and partners engaged in three-month negotiations with the Government prior to launching the PHRP process for 2010, which demonstrated the sensitivity of many of the main issues. Close contact with the Economic Affairs Division and Ministry of Foreign Affairs helped iron out different perceptions on terminology and humanitarian operations, though misunderstandings remain.