Haqqani highlights IDPs relief, rehabilitation requirements

Pakistan has said its mammoth relief and rehabilitation effort for internally displaced persons of northwestern Malakand region would cost more than $ 2 billion as its envoy in Washington visited the USAID Response Center to discuss handling of the American relief operations and assistance.

Ambassador Husain Haqqani met with the Acting Administrator USAID Alonzo Fulgham and received briefing from senior officials, James Beaver, Head of the Task Force for Pakistan and Afghanistan and other officials of USAID including Deputy Assistant Administrator for Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Deputy Response Manager about the status of current relief efforts by the US Government.

The envoy was briefed on the role of Response Management Team in providing support to the Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DART) that are coordinating the provision of US Government assistance in the affected areas and serving as a focal point for the OFDA, USAID entities, interagency community, Congress and other key stakeholders.

He was informed that humanitarian assistance in Pakistan has increased to more than $ 168 million since October 2008 in addition to $ 51 million provided for regional humanitarian assistance. Another $ 225 million recently approved by the U.S. Congress is in the pipeline for IDPs assistance Haqqani was also briefed about the FATA Transition Initiative under which 404 projects at a total cost of $ 16.74 million are being implemented. The relief assistance is continuing despite security concerns to provide food and other emergency assistance to displaced population.

The USAID officials informed that the agency is working in the areas of supporting health, nutrition, economy and market systems, shelter, settlement, relief supplies and logistic support, and information management.

So far the USAID/OFDA (implementing partners) have delivered more than 4600 tents, nearly 230,000 blankets, 83,500 sleeping mats, 45,600 water containers, 39000 mosquito nets, more than 43000 buckets, 27,7000 kitchen sets and 63,900 bars of soap to the UNCHR for distribution to the affected persons. They are also arranging Return Kits for the returnees to their homes In addition, 39,670 metric tons of food assistance has been provided to World Food Program emergency operation and 50,000 metric tons of food for Progress assistance through the Pakistan Agriculture Ministry for distribution to conflict affected population.

Ambassador Haqqani appreciated the USAID administration and Response Management Team for their services to humanity and efforts for coordinating relief assistance for the displaced persons and families.

He stressed that now the relief efforts has more or less streamlined, the key task would be safe return of the IDPs to their homes, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the displaced population.

“We need to start work on the design and reconstruction of houses, schools, health centers that have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict affected area as well as restoring livelihood of the affected population.”

The ambassador appreciated the proposed arrangement of providing Return Kits [distinct for rural and urban population] and suggested for advance planning to address health related issues during monsoon, pre and post natal care of women and education of the children either at the camps or schools when the academic starts in September this year.

Ambassador Haqqani urged effective coordination amongst various donors operating to provide assistance to IDPs and for accelerated flow of funds pledged in Tokyo by the donors to assist Pakistan in reviving its growth and creating more jobs.

Highlighting the need for assessment for relief and rehabilitation that may cost more than $ 2 billion, the ambassador thanked the US Government for its assistance sharing almost 50% of the burden assessed for relief effort by the United Nations which is close to $ 700 million.