Pakistan: Food Lifeline Provides Stability To Displaced Families

Against the backdrop of the major humanitarian crisis unfolding in northern Pakistan, WFP is leading the United Nations and humanitarian agencies in implementing an innovative approach to delivering food, shelter and vitally needed relief to families displaced by fighting.

ISLAMABAD -- WFP is streaming food to more than 2 million hungry people displaced by fighting between government forces and Taliban militants in northern Pakistan and through an innovative approach involving humanitarian 'hubs'  is helping give some stability to families forced to leave their homes. Read news release

"In a situation as volatile as this, we want to do all we can to provide life-saving food assistance, with the hope of cooling the situation," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

WFP statement on Peshawar bomb blast

ISLAMABAD – A blast at a hotel in Peshawar on Tuesday night resulted in fatalities and injuries to United Nations humanitarian aid workers staying at the hotel and injuries to two United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) employees.
The two WFP staff members - in Peshawar to assist with the humanitarian response to the ongoing displaced persons crisis in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province - are now receiving treatment in an Islamabad hospital.  All other WFP aid workers in Peshawar are safe and accounted for.

“Our hearts and thoughts are with those suffering from this tragic and brutal attack, including both WFP’s staff and UN colleagues with whom we’ve worked side by side, around the clock, to bring lifesaving assistance to millions,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

For security considerations, WFP has delayed the resumption of WFP food distributions at humanitarian hubs and IDP settlements by 24 hours. All WFP food distributions for the humanitarian emergency operation will resume tomorrow 11 June.

In response to the massive displacement of people in the wake of recent fighting in northern Pakistan, WFP has built its relief response around a system of  humanitarian ‘hubs’ and host communities. 

Safe, protected areas

As IDP camps near Peshawar and elsewhere have rapidly become overcrowded, WFP has taken steps in cooperation with the Government and the UN refugee agency UNHCR to promote alternative IDP settlements in safe and protected areas. In these areas displaced people are given accommodation in host communities. Read about Shahzad, an 11-year-old beneficiary

In or near these communities humanitarian hubs are set up to answer all the key needs of IDPs who reach them.  Once at a hub, IDPs can register for assistance, receive food and critically needed shelter and cooking utensils, and be directed into available shelter within the local communities. There are 35 of these hubs so far.

IDPs outside camps

“Humanitarian hubs are effective in assisting the many IDPs outside the camps who are more difficult to reach,“ said WFP Country Representative Wolfgang Herbinger. “Not only is WFP food provided to hungry people, but UNHCR and UNICEF and other relief organisations are able to hand out kits with shelter items, cooking utensils and clothing for families.”

To meet the needs of IDPs in the immediate crisis, WFP is dispatching record amounts of wheat flour, rice, sugar and pulses for distribution through the humanitarian hubs and in the IDP camps. 

Food bank in Peshawar

Meanwhile, a “food bank” has been set up in Peshawar to accept the many in-kind contributions of food from Pakistani citizens, companies and government authorities on behalf of the unprecedented numbers of displaced persons.

Despite the availability locally of food for WFP to purchase, it is clear that WFP will need to secure even larger amounts of food assistance – the Government of Pakistan has already requested WFP to provide at least six months of food rations for returning IDPs – when and if conditions allow for their safe return.


Background to the IDP crisis

The Pakistan government first began stepping up its counter-insurgency operations during the second half of 2008 and since then the number of IDPs needing WFP's assistance has steadily risen. The number rose sharply this month after the government launched fresh offensives in the Lower Dir, Swat and Buner districts of NWFP.  Find out more about the background to the fighting