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PAKISTAN: Timeline on human displacement since 2004

LAHORE, 5 July 2009 (IRIN) - The recent conflict-related population displacements in northwestern Pakistan - with some two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) - are the biggest in over 50 years, but by no means the only recent displacements.

Floods, earthquakes and conflict have led to numerous other displacements, summarized below.

2004-2006: Army operations against militants in South Waziristan, one of seven tribal territories on the Pakistan-Afghan border, led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people, according to local media, but the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) has warned that estimates of numbers vary enormously.

8 October 2005: Powerful earthquake in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and parts of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) leaves 3.5 million homeless. Many spent months - and even years - in camps, but most have now returned, thanks to government-sponsored re-housing schemes.

2005-2007: Clashes in Balochistan Province, southwestern Pakistan, between government forces and Baloch tribes seeking greater autonomy lead to at least 84,000 people, mostly from the Marri and Bugti tribes, being displaced in the districts of Dera Bugti and Kohlu, according to IDMC.

June-July 2007: Floods triggered by Cyclone Yemyin hit coastal areas on 26 June, affecting 2.5 million people and displacing 300,000 in the southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan.

October 2007: Fighting between government troops and militants around the town of Mirali, North Waziristan, creates about 80,000 IDPs. Many stayed with relatives. The number of people displaced from Waziristan exceeded 60,000 by March 2008, according to media estimates. A camp was set up for IDPs in neighbouring Bannu District by the government but it is not clear how many people used it.

25 October 2007: Government forces start fighting Taliban militants in Swat Valley (NWFP). Some 400,000-600,000 people left the area between September 2007 and February 2008, according to media reports.

February 2008: Some IDPs return to Swat after a peace deal in early 2008, but renewed conflict by the end of the year leads to further displacements (See IRIN timeline on Swat). 

April 2008: Estimates of the number of people still displaced in Balochistan in the wake of the clashes there vary from 200,000 to 50,000-60,000.

3 May 2009: Government offensive against militants begins in Swat, Buner and Dir districts in NWFP. About two million displaced so far, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). About 555,000 IDPs were reported to have been displaced by conflict from tribal areas before this latest military surge began. Most IDPs are staying with host families, placing an increasing burden on them. The NWFP government puts their number at over three million. The UK-based Islamic Relief puts the total number of IDPs in Pakistan at 3.7 million. While some IDPs have returned, most are still in over 20 camps or with relatives.

June 2009: About 40,000 IDPs are reported by national newspapers to have fled Waziristan, as fighting between government forces and militants flares up in the area.

(Sources: Internal displacement in South Asia by Paula Banerjee, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Samir Kumar Das, Bishnu Adhikari, New Delhi 2005; State of Human Rights in Pakistan, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Annual Reports: 1999, 2002, 2007, 2008; Newsline Magazine; IDMC: Internal Displacement Profile: Pakistan; International Crisis Group: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan, October 2007; leading Pakistani newspapers Dawn, The News.)

kh/at/cb

Theme (s): Refugees/IDPs,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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