Pakistan currently faces a humanitarian crisis, the magnitude of which threatens to unleash greater instability on Pakistan and the region. More than 3 million people have fled their homes in the country’s northwest as a result of fighting between militant groups and the Pakistani military.
Fighting has plagued the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, since 2002 and has spread into the adjacent Northwest Frontier Province, or NWFP, and other major Pakistan cities since 2007. This escalation in military operations and terror attacks over the past year has resulted in an unprecedented flood of internally displaced people, or IDPs. Fighting in the Bajaur, Mohmand, and Kyber agencies between August 2008 and February 2009 created more than 500,000 refugees, most of whom have not returned to their homes.
An all-out Pakistani military offensive in Swat valley that began in April 2009 has created millions more refugees. The Taliban’s brutal tactics and the Pakistani military’s blunt instruments—air power and heavy artillery—have caused millions to flee their homes. Ordinary Pakistani citizens have taken in the majority of these IDPs, but more than 270,000 are now living in refugee camps.
This map, based on information from the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and the government of Pakistan, shows the location of many of these refugees. Not pictured here are large numbers of IDPs who are reported to have settled in the country’s major cities, including Islamabad and Karachi, straining government services.
Fighting continues as the Pakistani military has begun military operations in the Bannu district of the NWFP and in South Waziristan in the FATA, causing thousands more to flee.
The United Nations has asked for approximately $543 million in a combined appeal to assist the displaced people in Pakistan. Yet as the chart shows it has thus far only received $143 million in pledges as of June 15.
The international community must step in to assist. The consequences of inaction are dire. Not only would it result in a human tragedy, but a weak response will only serve to further empower militant groups in Pakistan who are ready to step into the void left by the weak Pakistani government and the international community.
More information on how to make an individual contribution to the U.N.’s consolidated aid appeal for Pakistan is available here.