Date published: 1 June 2009
Poor communities in Pakistan’s northwest are hosting up to two million people displaced by recent violence in the region. World Vision is concerned that these communities – already among the poorest in the world – may join those displaced in days as their assets are sold to help those in need.
"Families have provided refuge for up to 90 percent of those escaping the fighting," said Graham Strong, World Vision’s Country Director in Pakistan. "They are sharing their homes, food, clothes and water. They are poor already and are making themselves poorer in the process."
Many assets are being sold to meet the growing need. "As the disaster continues, hosts are having to sell their land, cattle and other assets at far less than the market value in order to keep providing for their guests," explained Strong.
As the only international aid agency providing assistance in Buner District, World Vision talked to host villagers whose limited resources are almost depleted. They expressed a major concern that their cultural code of hospitality and compassion is being stretched to its limit and could be masking the scale of the need caused by the crisis.
"Without urgent assistance there is a real fear that impoverished host communities could contribute to another wave of internal displacement," said Strong.
"The cultural ethic of generosity and hospitality means hosts are now facing the agonising choice between asking guests to leave or becoming destitute and displaced themselves," he continued.
World Vision has found hosts often have little or no connection with those taking refuge in their homes.
Following a recent rapid assessment in Buner, World Vision has found that basic services such as health, education, water and sanitation are being stretched to breaking point. Pregnant and lactating women and children under five are extremely vulnerable, with access to healthcare and medical supplies in one of Pakistan’s poorest communities already depleted.
World Vision is distributing health kits, mattresses and essential household items in Buner and hopes to address the urgent needs of more than 200,000 people in Buner, Swabi and Mardan in northwest Pakistan.