2020 IN REVIEW
PAKISTAN HUMANITARIAN FUND AT A GLANCE
Humanitarian situation in 2020
Over the course of 2020, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan experienced a series of unexpected shocks that left the most vulnerable people facing compounding crises, with little opportunity for recovery. Drought-like conditions, which began in late 2018 and continued through 2019, were followed by a winter emergency across much of the western part of the country, which continued into early 2020. In January, the worst desert locust infestation in 27 years was declared a national emergency by the Government. By February, the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic shocks, coupled with public health measures, dealt a severe blow to livelihoods and the economy, disrupted education and resulted in increasing food insecurity.
Impact of COVID-19
Pakistan was hit hard by the health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, which particularly affected the most poor and vulnerable. In addition to the direct effects of the virus – as of 15 January 2021 593,409 cases and 12,295 deaths – the pandemic put further pressure on already strained health system. In addition, shutdown measures, aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, and other disruptions, had a major impact in a country whose economy is heavily reliant on manufacturing and services.
Flood Emergency in Sindh Province
In September 2020, the Government of Pakistan declared a national emergency as a result of the heaviest monsoon rains recorded in the last 70 years, which triggered major floods in Sindh Province and affected an estimated 2.4 million people. On 31st August 2020, the Sindh Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) asked the United Nations Pakistan to conduct a Rapid Needs Assessment (RNA) for initiating a localized response in 11 (six urban and five rural) out of 20 affected districts.
Pakistan is the world’s third largest refugee-hosting country, with over 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, as well as refugees of other nationalities and asylum-seekers under UNHCR’s mandate. The majority of refugees are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (58 per cent) and Baluchistan (23 per cent), two areas that have Pakistan’s lowest living standards and highest multidimensional poverty index scores.
Levels of violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have decreased of the past few years, and most of the 1.2 million people displaced by military operations in 2009 have returned to their homes, with only 98,058 remaining. Around 17,000 families (15,774 families from North Waziristan and 1,114 families from Khyber) are still displaced, and another 2,041 families, displaced from the North Waziristan, are living in the Baka Khel camp. Humanitarian needs in areas of return, and the fragility of gains in food security, nutrition and health, are of concern.
Security and access constraints
With support of the HCT, the OCHA Peshawar office continued to advocate for humanitarian access and monitored access-related issues. The team maintained close contacts with partners to collect project and travel-related data, and results were shared with local authorities and humanitarian partners on a quarterly basis. OCHA provincial offices/representatives provided coordination support to humanitarian partners on a case-by-case basis, facilitating meetings with the local authorities and making the necessary follow-up to resolve access constraints.