- Culture of hospitality pushed to its limits as communities provide
refuge for hundreds of thousands fleeing violence
- Hosts selling assets and sharing everything they have, risking extreme
poverty and their own displacement
- A host villager agonizes, "It will be easier to die than to ask the
displaced to leave."
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 28 /CNW/ - Poor communities in Pakistan's
northwest are hosting up to two million people uprooted by recent violence in
the region. World Vision warns these communities - already among the poorest
in the world - may join those displaced in the coming days as their assets are
sold to help those in need.
"Families have provided refuge for up to 90 per cent of those escaping
the fighting," said Canadian Graham Strong, World Vision's Country Director in
Pakistan. "They are sharing their homes, food, clothes and water. They are
poor already and are making themselves poorer in the process."
Many assets are being sold to meet the growing need. "As the disaster
continues," explained Strong, "hosts are having to sell their land, cattle and
other assets at far less than the market value in order to keep providing for
As the only international relief, development and advocacy organization
providing assistance in Buner District, World Vision talked to villagers whose
limited resources are almost depleted by those displaced.
They expressed a major concern that their cultural code of hospitality
and compassion is being stretched to its limit and could be masking the scale
of the need caused by the crisis.
"Without urgent assistance there is a real fear that impoverished host
communities could contribute to another wave of internal displacement," said
"The cultural ethic of generosity and hospitality means hosts are now
facing the agonizing choice between asking guests to leave or becoming
destitute and displaced themselves," he continued.
World Vision found hosts often have little or no connection with those
taking refuge in their homes.
A 59-year-old man in Buner has taken 37 people into his home. "Many host
families have exhausted their wealth and will have to leave themselves or ask
their guests to leave. It will be easier to die than to ask families to
leave," he said.
Basic services such as health, education, water and sanitation are being
stretched to breaking point, World Vision learned from its rapid assessment in
Buner. It found pregnant and lactating women and children under five are
extremely vulnerable, with access to healthcare and medical supplies in one of
Pakistan's poorest communities already depleted.
To alleviate the situation, aid agencies are urging donors to fully fund
appeals to allow them to address the needs of both the host communities as
well as those fleeing violence.
Canadians wishing to donate to the emergency in Pakistan can do so by
visiting WorldVision.ca or calling 1-800-268-5528.
"We urge the international community to follow the example of Pakistan's
communities who have demonstrated extreme generosity in the hardest of
circumstances," said Strong.
World Vision is distributing health kits, mattresses and essential
household items in Buner and hopes to raise $13 million to address the urgent
needs of more than 200,000 people in Buner, Swabi and Mardan in northwest
Notes to Editors
- World Vision has operated in Pakistan since 1992. World Vision does
not have child sponsorship programs in the country. Communities in
five districts of Pakistan benefit from our intervention targeting
health, water and sanitation, education, and psychosocial support.
World Vision Canada funds more than $780,000 in projects that focus on
community farming for families, child rights which ensures that
children have access to quality services, and improvement in the
standard of living after the earthquake that hit Pakistan in October
- World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy
organization dedicated to working with children, families and
communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all
people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.
For further information:
For further information: To interview World Vision staff, please contact
Yoko Kobayashi, (905) 565-6200 ext. 2151, (416) 671-0086 (cell),
yoko_kobayashi@WorldVision.ca; Alex Sancton, (905) 565-6200 ext. 3949, (416)
419-1321 (cell), alex_sancton@WorldVision.ca