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In Pakistan, families begin to return home

July 28, 2009

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The latest update just in from our emergency-response team in Pakistan:

The Government of Pakistan estimates there are 3.584 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) with 24,841 families in camps and 236,908 families outside camps.

The number of IDPs residing in schools has grown due to pressure on host communities.

The UN and Government of Pakistan report that approximately 300 families a day are returning to Buner. While people are returning to safe areas, international NGOs report much lower figures.

The Taliban continue to claim responsibility for bombings and gun attacks throughout Pakistan. The shooting of a senior UNHCR staff, and his guard, during a failed kidnap attempt outside one of the major camps close to Peshawar has increased the sense of general insecurity among the humanitarian community. However, the areas where IDPs are currently residing are relatively safe.

Water and sanitation projects have been completed at 22 schools, including 35 new latrines and 53 bathing spaces constructed, 5 motor pumps and 11 hand pumps installed or repaired, eight new water tanks built, and 380 hygiene kits distributed. Additionally, 25 solid-waste bins have been constructed, 2 new soakage pits rehabilitated, 8 septic tanks repaired, and 13 water coolers and 1 water filter installed.

As of July 15, 98.8% of the 21,103 checks we distributed to displaced families had been cashed. Most families used the money for food, clothing and medicine.

Mercy Corps has trained 30 monitors on how to work with children in our psychosocial program. We conducted five trainings on nutrition with 176 mothers. They also were given money to purchase food for their kids.

The change in weather expected with the onset of the monsoons may cause flooding, exacerbating conditions in camps and schools. This may worsen health and sanitation throughout the IDP population.