Earlier today I was among representatives of seven members of Interaction, a coalition of humanitarian agencies, who met with Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The topic: Pakistan's growing IDP crisis.
Ambassador Holbrooke stressed the focus and concern of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton on the crisis, and wanted to hear from the NGOs about challenges they were facing there.
Among the issues raised by the NGOs:
- Over 80% of those displaced by the conflict are staying with host families rather than in camps — which presents special challenges to addressing their needs;
- Conditions in many of the camps are substandard — with huge challenges for appropriate shelter, water and sanitation with searing temperatures and the approaching monsoon;
- Children make up a large proportion of the displaced; and
- There is a shortage of female health workers.
Mercy Corps continues to meet the immediate needs of both host and displaced families by distributing cash grants to families that can be used to buy food, cooking supplies, bedding and other essentials.