ISLAMABAD - Educational facilities for children displaced from Khyber Agency owing to military operations are scarce and often inaccessible, educational services along with psychosocial support are urgently required for them as mothers report undesirable change in the children’s behaviour after displacement.

A recent report of Save the Children on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) displaced from Khyber Agency highlights that 56 per cent of respondents shared that IDP families do not have their children enrolled in schools. Displaced children are particularly vulnerable to threats such as child labour, violence, neglect and abuse, warns the report. ‘67 percent of mothers reported undesirable change in the children’s behaviour after displacement thus, psychosocial support is urgently required for children who have been affected by the displacement and child protection programmes to assist children suffering from psychosocial stress and behavioural problems must be initiated’.

According to UNICEF, 50 per cent of the IDP population are children, 12 per cent of the displaced are younger than two while 28 per cent are younger than five. Humanitarian agencies need additional funding to provide relief to IDPs both within Jalozai and especially in the surrounding off-camp areas where the vast majority is residing, it added.

Results from Save the Children’s Initial Observation Report of off-camp IDPs reveal multiple needs of displaced families with respect to income, food, health, education and household supplies. Health facilities for many are difficult to reach and many IDPs are unable to gain access to or afford to purchase health services and medicines.

‘The 77 per cent of families in host communities are living in rented accommodations, which are often cramped, unhygienic and shared with other families. Many families have reported selling off livestock and borrowing to cover rental payments’.

Food stocks represent a risk to food security for displaced communities and household items such as cooking utensils, water storage containers, stoves, fuel lightning, water containers, solar lamps as well as women and children hygiene kits are urgently required, the report said.

Save the Children’s observation study found that 82 per cent women reported decrease in frequency of breastfeeding after displacement. Further efforts are required to ensure access to health services and early detection and response to disease outbreaks to the most vulnerable IDP communities.

About 63,000 families are estimated to have been recently displaced from Khyber Agency. However, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) states that only 47,860 families (208,971 people) have registered as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Jalozai camp, out of which 10 per cent are residing in the camp while the remaining are living with host communities in Peshawar and surrounding areas.

The recently displaced families join hundreds of thousands of IDPs from previous conflicts in the area, which have been ongoing since 2009. The most recent displacement is due to escalating military operations against militant groups in the area. Save the Children estimates that over 600,000 in total will be displaced if military operations continue - among which over 300,000 are expected to be children.

Aid organizations have set up operations inside Jalozai camp, where they distribute food and shelter supplies and offer health and educational services to displaced persons. However, only 10 percent of the registered IDPs from Bara live in Jalozai camp. Most IDPs opt to live off camp for reasons linked to tradition, culture, and concerns about privacy for women.