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Internally Displaced or disowned by the State?

Internally displaced persons are people that have had to leave their homes and the place of their birth due to conflict and it is one of the measures that can be used to judge the severity of a conflict. In Pakistan, there are about 1.2 million people who face displacement due to conflict (UN 2009). Leaving the area of the conflict to avoid being caught in the fire is a method that has been used by civilians throughout time while a lot of international attention is given to refugees in foreign countries, not enough attention is paid to people who relocate within the borders of the same country. The responsibility of the state towards them and how their life is impacted due to the conflict and subsequent displacement. In Pakistan, most of the people become displaced due to the armed conflict between the Taliban and the Pakistani military, particularly in the Waziristan region. According to a UN report it is the largest movement of people in Pakistan since 1947. Most of the IDPs were living in the host communities as well as the government settlement camps with the idea that they will go back to their own community as soon as the conflict was over.

Among the displaced population, almost 80% consist of children of school-going age, and the conflict itself as well as the resulting state of homelessness and displacement has a huge negative impact on the education of the children. Most of the children were deprived of years’ worth of schooling as they moved away from their homes and were forced to live in camps or elsewhere. The psychological impact of the displacement was also huge. This impacted the access to education that the displaced kids had as their access to a school was restricted. The government also set up camps in the schools of the host communities into which the IDPs arrived. So 5000 schools were turned into shelter camps for the IDPs in the host communities where the IDPs arrived. This also impacted the access to education of the kids in the host community. Upon returning to their homes the IDPs saw that there has been extreme damage done to the schools and infrastructure was not able to take back the children as it was in a state of extreme devastation. The government also banned NGOs from working in the Waziristan region due to the large-scale operations.

There needs to be a significant investment made into the affected communities and the lack of funding has been a major issue that is stopping the rehabilitation. If normalcy is to be established then the population should be provided with the funding necessary to build back up the years’ worth of development that is compromised due to the conflict.

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Maha Waheed
Maha Waheed
Dec 10, 2022

The way our government treats the IDPs is very saddening, but IDPs are not only limited to conflict. Those have been displaced due to disasters. If we look into the recent flooding in Pakistan, we can see that many people have been displaced, and schools have been turned in to flood relief camps. Its been more than three months, but the government has done nothing to educate those kids. The same goes with the swat conflict, a massive influx of kids that moved towards the area near swat. The schools could not cater to all those kids due to a lack of resources, but nothing was done about that.


You have aptly highlighted the harrowing lived reality of millions of people within the borders of Pakistan who have long been ignored within the discourses that govern the educational access to public. The deplorability of their lived experience is that whether they remain in the conflict zone or flee from it, they are structurally denied access to education. The requirement for documentation appears to be an institutionally tone deaf response to their plight, a policy level insensitivity towards their conditions - one that they had no share in creating. From your post, what I gather is that in the case of the IDPs there is more than just a physical disruption of education rather there is a massive traumatic burden…


Children who are internally displaced confront the same dangers as children who are refugees, and in some situations they face even greater levels of uncertainty since they continue to live in and around conflict zones. Although few organizations have definite institutional mandates claiming responsibility for care, international law does not contain any binding requirements for internally displaced children. Despite the magnitude of the population movements caused by intrastate conflict in Pakistan, the government has not yet adopted a national IDP policy or law and has not consistently acknowledged its duty to protect or aid IDPs. In fact, national authorities frequently avoid using the word "IDP," referring to people as "affected" or "temporarily dislocated." Therefore, a whole generation is in upheaval.


You mentioned how international refugees get more attention, maybe this is becasue of the fact that if a country highlights how they are accepting people from a foreign land they get more media attention. People appreciate their efforts without actually looking at how they are treating them.

Moreover, people who are displaced within a country do not receive that much attention, because foreign media does not highlight the issue. Let alone that, even our own media does not pay much attention to it. Initially when the floods hit this year the main stream media only highlighted the people who were affected but never let us know what actually happened to the ones who survived.

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