At the beginning of summer 2009, operations in Pakistan by security forces to root out insurgents from the ungoverned areas along the Afghan border have seen upwards of 3 million civilians displaced from their homes as they flee from Taliban and military attacks. In many of the tribal belts, this represents close to two thirds of the population in what has been the world’s largest displacement of people due to conflict since the Rwandan genocide. Many have literally had to run with nothing more than the clothes they are wearing and have lost everything- with their houses destroyed and family uprooted, they have nothing to return to.
As the region still struggles to cope with millions of long-term Afghan refugees, resources and limited access mean that huge numbers of IDPs have been left stranded and can see no future. Even in post conflict areas, security remains tenable. In a tactical effort to locate fighters and terrorists, the government have forcibly returned millions of people to areas where the peace remains at best fragile.
Taliban groups remain at large and among many communities in the aftermath of conflict, populations feel that they cannot begin to rebuild their lives while a continued threat of violence remains. Many however cannot return; their prolonged displaced and anguish much ignored.
Continued waves of fighting have displaced millions more over the past months only adding to the already high numbers left destitute.
The exodus of civilians fleeing war in Pakistan is the country’s biggest humanitarian disaster. According to the United Nations, more people were displaced in Pakistan last year than in any other country- three times higher than the second placed Democratic Republic of Congo.