The Socio-political Situation
Regional instability stems from a decades-long dispute with India over Kashmir and from war in Afghanistan. In recent years, the country has endured one crisis after another. Aside from the recent natural disasters, insecurity continues in some areas, including along the north-western border with Afghanistan, Balochistan, and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The transition from military to democratic rule has been complicated, with reports of bureaucratic corruption and politicization slowing the state-building process.
Pakistan has low social development indicators: it ranks 141 out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index and 124 out of 155 on the Gender Development Index. WFP estimates that 45 million people are severely food insecure and almost 40 per cent of children are underweight. The national literacy rate is low at 57 per cent for those over 10 years old, although it is higher in urban areas. Women are less likely to be literate than men.
The Humanitarian Situation
In 2009, three million people were forced to flee their homes in north-west Pakistan due to security services operations by the Government against militants. Since July 2009, two thirds have returned home, but ongoing operations of security services continue to trigger new dislocations in parts of KP. The humanitarian response remains complex, with relief activities aimed at four target groups: returnees; stayees (those who have remained in insecure zones during operations); those dislocated to camps; and those living with host families. Approximately 80,000 families (600,000 people) need greater food security, shelter, health, education, and water and sanitation. There are also 1.9 million Afghan refugees assisted by UNHCR in the area.
Torrential monsoon rains returned in August 2011, triggering severe flooding in Sindh Province and in districts of Balochistan. A joint needs assessment conducted in October 2011 by the UN and Government (the Multi-Sectoral Detailed Needs Assessment) found these l floods had affected 4.82 million people in Sindh and 332,000 in Balochistan. Nearly 43 per cent of the affected population are considered to be severely food insecure, while 660,000 people had not been able to return home as of the end of October 2011. Female-headed households are particularly vulnerable.
The Humanitarian Strategy and Response
Given recent trends, it is likely that natural disasters and insecurity will continue to affect Pakistan over the next two years. The UN Country Team is working with the Government to increase its ability to respond to humanitarian crises and find longer term mitigating solutions. Cluster coordination mechanisms have been set up wherever humanitarian activities are ongoing and where the Government is represented at all levels.
Access to people in parts of the country is limited due to an unpredictable security situation. In KP and FATA, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) has stressed the need to help protect civilians and improve people’s access to humanitarian assistance and services. It also maintains that relief and early recovery efforts must be integrated to help returnees and vulnerable families restart their lives.
Eleven UN agencies and 33 INGOs are actively involved in the response and working within an inter-agency coordination forum supported by OCHA. Only 50 per cent of the $661 million requested through the 2009 Humanitarian Response Plan was committed and funding remains limited as the Government has not approved a new response plan.
In flood-affected Sindh and Balochistan, the 2010 Response Plan requested $1.9 billion for a year and was 70 per cent funded. The Rapid Response Plan of $357 million for the subsequent 2011 floods was only a quarter funded (as at November 2011). The HCT has recognized the need to initiate and support early recovery activities, and to ensure a fair distribution of humanitarian and protection assistance to vulnerable groups. Efforts are being made to dovetail humanitarian and development coordination mechanisms to ensure a smooth transition from relief to recovery.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): Individuals or groups of people who have been forced or obliged to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized.