Protest against hunger: With food supplies suspended, IDPs starving

A protest was held by internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in Jalozai Camp against the camp administration on Monday.

The protesters, who belong to the Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency, came all the way to Peshawar in the scorching heat, where they protested outside the office of Daily Express in Gulbahar. They chanted slogans against the authorities for discontinuing their rations, and demanded a change in the administration.

A representative for the IDPs, Malik Khan, told The Express Tribune that the refugees had not received rations for the past four months, and were now facing starvation. “Our tents have worn out due to which we cannot protect ourselves from the rain or the heat. The camp is in awful condition and the authorities have turned a blind eye towards our issues,” he explained.

Khan accused Camp Administrator Noor Akbar and another official, Ismail, of torturing the IDPs and demanded that the authorities remove them from their posts. “We will block Khyber Road in protest if our demands are not fulfilled,” he added.

Alif Khan, another IDP, said he had been living in Jalozai for the past two years and had been receiving food stipends during this time. However, for the past four months, he had not received any ration, due to which he was facing serious problems.

“I have 19 members in my family. How can I manage to feed them without receiving any stipend?” he asked. Rations for refugees in Bajaur and Mohmand were stopped because the government felt that ‘peace has been restored there’. However, that was not the case in Bara, where a curfew is still in force.

“The authorities have not announced any date for our return. We cannot go back to our homes and we are not being given any food either,” he said.

The authorities announced that they would cut food rations to IDPs in April, citing discontinuation of supplies from international agencies.

Jalozai Camp is the largest refugee camp in the country, and has provided shelter to most of the IDPs during the ongoing operations. According to official figures, at least 4,678 families, or 20,669 refugees from Khyber Agency are still residing in the camp.

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