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Khyber crisis: an uncertain situation

“Most of the families cannot afford two meals a day,” says Nawaz, the supervisor of one of Save the Children’s temporary learning centres in Pakistan.

“These people are extremely poor and the majority of families have eight to ten members. It is impossible to have sufficient food because the men earn only pitiful daily wages in and around [Peshawar] city.”

Many of these families arrived in Peshawar with savings that were already dwindling at an alarming rate.

Many rent spaces to live and are trying to find work rather than waiting for assistance in the infamous Jalozai camp – the only place currently available for displaced families to register.

Salman, 14 months, receives a thorough check from a Save the Children physician in Peshawar District

Life in Jalozai camp

Located some 30km from Peshawar, the camp is already extremely overcrowded.  50% of those newly arrived are believed to be children. However it’s not just the overcrowding deterring people from staying in the camp.

In a region where female privacy is paramount, cultural sensibilities often play a significant role. On top of that, many of those displaced have lost their national identity cards or other documents and so are unable to register in the first place.

For those lucky enough to be in possession of their documents, a wait of between seven to ten days is expected before verification can be completed. However, several of those seeking to enter the camp have reported that this process in reality lasts closer to three weeks.

Constant threat of danger

My planned visit to Jalozai was cut short after a security incident occurred within the camp. Authorities are particularly weary of visitors to Jalozai; especially NGO personnel due to the uncertain security situation.

The constant threat of bombings, gunfights and suicide attacks prevails in Peshawar District. Last month, a police superintendant was killed in a suicide attack not far from Peshawar City, while 17 people were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a funeral procession.

Although Peshawar is the urban hub of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and one of the largest cities in Pakistan, repeated attacks in the city and its surroundings have created a tense atmosphere.

The city’s inhabitants are now wondering where the next attack will occur and how many lives it will take.

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