ISLAMABAD - A new report says that as of the end of 2014, Pakistan accounted for 46 percent of the more than 4 million people displaced by conflict and violence in South Asia.
The findings are part of a global research study released Wednesday by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, or IDMC, at the United Nations in Geneva.
It says the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Pakistan increased from at least 746,700 to at least 1.9 million as insurgency and counterinsurgency operations intensified, reversing a slow downward trend since 2009.
The report says Pakistani military operations against insurgents in the so-called North Waziristan and Khyber tribal districts near the Afghan border caused the largest new displacements of the year, with up to 907,000 people forced to flee their homes, compared with 140,000 in 2013.
It says that most of those newly displaced were still living in that situation at the end of last year.
The report found that the majority of displaced persons from North Waziristan and Khyber moved to nearby districts in northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
“Most chose to stay with host communities rather than in camps, in part because taking refuge in government-run sites makes them a target for Pakistani Taliban and their allied insurgent groups," the report added.
Pakistani security forces have been battling local Taliban extremists mostly entrenched in the mountainous tribal belt along the Afghan border.
While the security operations claim to have killed thousands of militants, they have also caused massive displacements in recent years.
The IDMC report says the displaced population lacks access to drinking water, food, sanitation, shelter, education, livelihoods and tenure security. “Insecurity and restricted humanitarian access, however, prevented a needs-based response in many cases,” the report says.
The study says that a lack of funding for programming in Pakistan means that both international aid and government assistance tend to prioritize people who are newly displaced over those living in protracted displacement, perpetuating the latter’s plight.