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Rehabilitation of IDPs be expedited

According to sources privy to the deliberations at a meeting of the apex committee of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last month, Military had expressed concern over delay in release of funds for repatriation and rehabilitation of temporarily displaced persons (TDPs), and also over lack of progress on reforms in the tribal region. As per the plan, the repatriation of all TDPs to their areas was scheduled to be completed by November this year, but the target would not be achieved if funds are not released on urgent basis. If they are not rehabilitated in an honorable manner, and if tribal area is not developed, the people of FATA would remain unemployed and deprived, which will provide the militants opportunity to use peoples’ grouse. The government should therefore give top priority to their rehabilitation and reforms in FATA.
No doubt difficulties faced by TDPs are multifaceted and painful especially when they helped the military by moving out of their homes to avert collateral damage. The psychological trauma of TDPs is beyond any measurement and every step to provide them relief and quick rehabilitation would have positive impact. All segments of society should be mobilized to ensure their honorable return to their abodes, and must contribute to this cause. Federal and Provincial governments are responsible for making arrangements to expedite their return; however philanthropists should contribute so that they start their life, profession and vocations to eke out living, and that their children could go to schools. At the same time, the government should introduce reforms in FATA so that they are given equal rights and opportunities for their development.
In April 2015, the government had launched the “FATA Sustainable Return and Rehabilitation Strategy” under which 600000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were to be sent back to their native towns by July 2015 and $120 million was estimated for their rehabilitation. According to the strategy, the whole process of repatriation of IDPs would be completed by 2016. The budget for the rehabilitation activities of the initial phase was $120 million and this strategy was part of a larger rehabilitation and reconstruction effort, including return grants, conditional cash transfers, housing rehabilitation and infrastructure reconstruction, which would require about $800 million. The Fata Secretariat, with technical support from the UNDP, has developed the Fata Sustainable Return and Rehabilitation Strategy, which aims to ensure the progressive and sustainable return of the entire TDP population to Fata.
To encourage their safe, voluntary return, this comprehensive strategy seeks to establish an enabling environment in IDPs’ areas of origin in Fata. The strategy was shared with other humanitarian partners including OCHA, World Bank, the US, China, and the UK etc. Since 2008, a large number of populations were frequently displaced to and from FATA, and from all tribal agencies. The latest wave of displacement had brought the total FATA displacement caseload up to an estimated 310,729 families – around 2 million Temporarily Dislocated Persons (TDPs) – of which around 70 percent are women and children. Although the government and its humanitarian partners are continuing their efforts to provide relief to this vulnerable population, more sustainable solutions are needed to support the return of TDPs to their areas of origin.
In January 2016, the FATA Secretariat had signed a new agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. This new partnership aimed at supporting the Government of FATA’s reform in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and includes the launch of the Governor’s Strategic Support Unit. Since March 2015, more than 115,000 families (38 percent of those displaced) have returned to their homes in FATA, where they are faced with damaged infrastructure and minimal access to basic services. The United Kingdom has contributed over pounds sterling 10.25 million (over Rupees 1500 million) – pounds 6.25 million (over Rupees 930 million) through UNDP – to improve governance of the recovery process, provide direct support to returning families to rebuild basic services and livelihoods, and to plan for long term reform.
An essential element of this support is the establishment of the Governor’s Strategic Support Unit, which will provide additional capacity within the Government to help deliver some of the most important aspects of its reform agenda. This Unit will help the FATA Secretariat and other FATA departments deliver major reform in at least four key sectors of government including education, health, economic development and FATA reforms. Addressing the event, Tracy Vienings, the UNDP Pakistan Deputy Country Director had said: “After years of fighting and displacement, communities in FATA need all the help we can offer to rebuild. Guided by the Government’s FATA Sustainable Return and Rehabilitation Strategy and with generous assistance from the United Kingdom, UNDP is proud to help them lay the foundations for a prosperous and peaceful future for FATA.”
The work of the Governors’ Strategic Support Unit will be essential to achieving this objective. With support from the UK, UNDP will also provide technical assistance to FATA Secretariat to develop concrete roadmaps for reform in the areas of rule of law and justice, including specific reforms in local governance, law enforcement, municipal services, judicial services and land settlements. In addition, about 300 communities will be engaged in government-led rehabilitation efforts, with 25 community spaces rehabilitated for recreational and other productive activities with active participation by FATA’s youth. The federal government and KPK government should expedite and coordinate their efforts to achieve the laudable objective of providing facilities to the people of FATA.

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