Caritas members are supporting more and more vulnerable people on the ground in Pakistan, but there are many difficulties to overcome. One of them is security. One Caritas member, for example, started distributing non-food items on Thursday in Mardan and are continuing to do so in coming days. But monitoring by international staff was made impossible after a bomb explosion killed seven policemen in Mardan on the same day.
Every ngo is worried about security so there is a lot of information sharing on this issue. When you are moving around outside Islamabad you are obliged to continuously inform your office of your whereabouts.
This week I attended my first security meeting with other ngo’s. It’s a regular meeting but the location differs every time. In this meeting it was announced that car jacking in more remote areas will become a threat since Taliban is running short of vehicles and finances. Don’t drive around in new looking shiny vehicles was the message.
So far I myself do not feel unsafe. Moving around in the camps for people displaced by the conflict does not feel threatening, the same for visiting cities and villages. But last Wednesday I was escorted by two armed guards. This however had more to do with the Shah family who showed us around than our needs.
One member of this family is head of the Union Council (part of the administration of a district). The Shah family is of their own expense taking care of around 300 IDP’s. I joined Trocaire’s partner ICMC for an assessment in the village. And all the time we had these two armed guards watching over us.
The other big issue is funding. This morning I attended the General Coordination Meeting chaired by UN OCHA. For this humanitarian disaster there is the system of working in by UN led clusters, like for example Health, Shelter, Food, etc. The UN launched its flash appeal on the 22nd of May, but up until now only 25 percent of the funds are covered.
Through the UN clusters aid agencies can appeal for funding. But to get it is not easy and takes time, to say the least, especially when the UN is also running short.
Caritas is also suffering from this problem. Normally you have some funds of your own, that’s why CRS (a Caritas member in the US), Caritas Switzerland and other members started already distributions and so on. But the big funding is not secured yet and we are running out of time.