about the author
Martin Penner, a former journalist, has worked for WFP since 2008.
WFP has revised contingency plans and is preparing to provide food assistance to as many as one million IDPs in Pakistan’s troubled border regions with Afghanistan in the wake of new fighting between the Pakistan army and insurgents.
ROME -- Until this week, WFP envisaged a worst case scenario in which it would provide food to 600,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the northwestern districts affected by counter-insurgency operations.
But as the confrontation between government forces and militants becomes more widespread, more and more people are taking advantage of the partial lifting of curfews to move into safer areas. The result is that WFP believes it may need to assist up to a million people.
The provincial government estimates between 150,000 to 200,000 people have already arrived in safer areas of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) over the last few days; with another 300,000 already on the move or about to move.
Main agency providing food
Most of the existing IDP population is living in host communities. WFP is the main humanitarian agency providing food assistance to these people and in April we provided food to about 450,000 IDPs in NWFP.
Counterinsurgency operations were stepped up during the second half of 2008, pushing up the number of IDPs in need of food assistance. New military offensives against the armed opposition started last week in three districts of North West Frontier Province, resulting in the new displacements.
Pakistan's authorities have requested the humanitarian community to provide assistance to an additional 500,000 IDPs in the wake of military operations in Swat district that started Wednesday.
Mobilizing food stocks
WFP is mobilizing all its in-country stocks and calling forward deliveries in order to assist the arriving IDPs.
WFP-managed Humanitarian Hubs (extended food delivery points) have been increased from 11 to now 15 and three additional hubs will opened early next week.
WFP has a longstanding programme in Pakistan. Since 1968, WFP has invested more than $1.4 billion to assist Pakistan’s poorest citizens and refugees there.