Following a series of armed attacks across the country by the militants in the month of January; domestic pressure grew on the Government of Pakistan to take tougher action against the militants. As a result, a small-scale air strike operation has been launched to obliterate the hideouts of the militants. Thousands of families have been reported to flee because of the escalating tension on ground.
At least 6,000 families have moved out of North Waziristan Agency after Government forces began taking action against militant attacks. Military sources have reported, that they are targeting only the militant’s hideouts. However, the fear of being hit even unintentionally by both military and militants has forced the locals to vacate their homes. The exact number of displaced families cannot be assessed at the moment as the figures being reported by authorities vary. An official from Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) reported that around 6,000 families had been displaced but half of them have returned to their homes. The local people report that more than 70,000 individuals had left their homes.
Fighter jets and helicopters are being used in the airstrikes by the armed forces. It is for the first time that the air force has resorted to using fighter jets in the volatile region since it struck a ceasefire agreement with local Taliban chiefs in 2007. The nearby tribal region of Kurram was also hit by the strikes.
The local authorities are appealing to the people not to vacate their homes, as the situation will not deteriorate further. Since there were no warnings issued to the locals before the Government started the air strikes, people started moving to safer places. Sources state that most of the displaced people are heading towards District Bannu. Having no proper arrangements for them, they have been compelled to take shelter with relatives, friends, and others under open skies. They are in need of immediate help however, the Government has not formally announced the emergency and called for assistance. Officials from the FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) say they have not received official directions to deal with the IDPs.
Currently CWS-P/A is closely monitoring the situation and is in contact with local partners and concerned Government departments. Should any need arise, CWS-P/A emergency teams are ready to start its response program.