In north-western Pakistan, UNICEF provides safety and education for displaced children
By A. Sami Malik
“When fighting started, and bullets and bombs were fired at our home, we hired a vehicle and came here,” to Jalozai camp, she said. “Over there when we would go to school, shelling would start in the area. We would get scared and run to other classrooms or run back home. Our mother would ask why we have returned from school and we said we are too scared of the bullets.”
She is now enrolled in a school established by UNICEF in Jalozai camp. “A month after moving into the camp, we started coming to this school. We like it better than the one in the village. Here they teach us well,” Safia said.
A critical emergency
Camps and communities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province have been receiving internally displaced people (IDPs) since 2008. However, a fresh influx of people due to heightened insecurity since the beginning of this year has placed added pressure on resources and services.
UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Dan Rohrmann said, “With 280,000 people having moved from the Khyber Agency to Nowshera District, of which over 50,000 are residing in Jalozai camp, we really have a critical emergency that is not drawing enough attention.”
The new IDPs are being housed in Jalozai, Togh Serai and New Durrani camps and many more reside with host communities in Peshawar and Nowshera districts.
UNICEF has issued a request for US$37.2 million to meet the needs of this complex emergency. Funding of only US$11.9 million has been received so far.
Since the onset of this emergency, UNICEF has been providing life-saving humanitarian assistance in the form of water, sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, education and child protection services to families in camps and host communities.
During a recent high-level visit to Jalozai, Mr. Rohrmann and the Principal Advisor to the UNICEF Executive Director Peter Mason reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to providing these services to the new IDPs from Khyber Agency.
During the visit, UNICEF officials visited a health centre established in collaboration with the European Union, Merlin and the World Health Organization (WHO). They were briefed on health and nutrition services being provided to families, oral rehydration therapy, a nutrition promotion and rehabilitation clinic, a breastfeeding centre, an Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI) centre and a pathological laboratory.
The delegation also visited one of the 12 UNICEF-established primary schools in the camp. Nearly 4,483 students are enrolled in the ‘child-friendly schools’, which offer important health and hygiene lessons as well as recreation, psychosocial support and other features that engage the children and their communities.
UNICEF has also established 21 Protective Learning and Community Emergency Services (PLaCES) centres in the camp to provide a protective environment for women and children. There, psychosocial support is provided in addition to educational and recreational activities.
“Families from tribal areas, especially females, do not stay in the camp for long. At times, they are here and at other times they move back to their villages. Because of this back-and-forth, they face some psychological problems. Psychosocial support that we provide in these centres benefits them a lot,” said Saiqa Gigyani, a child protection monitor at one of the PLaCES.
The delegation also viewed the water, sanitation and hygiene operations in Jalozai camp. UNICEF and partners are providing safe water to more than 58,000 people and are maintaining 4,000 latrines, 1,800 washrooms, 1,000 washing pads and 200 solid waste collection points. Thousands of families have received hygiene kits, buckets and jerry cans.
“UNICEF is providing critical services to the new IDPs. Immunization is one of them because many of the children have not been vaccinated for years. Secondly, nutritional services are critical because many children who come here are severely malnourished. Provision of clean water and sanitation helps prevent outbreak of waterborne diseases, and of course education provides a possibility to re-connect with a learning opportunity that has been dearly missed,” said Mr. Rohrmann.