Latest Updates

Monday, June 15, 2009

Aid Worker on Displaced Men

About 80 percent of the nearly 3 million people displaced by fighting in northwest Pakistan are women and children.

Islamic Relief has concentrated on alleviating the trauma of the children, but the adults are suffering too.

In his most recent diary entry, Islamic Relief aid worker Niyaz Muhammad reports on the psychological state of displaced men, who are a minority among the IDPs but bear the brunt of the hardship.

At the Health Center in the village of Char Gulli I met 30-year-old Abdul Khaliq and his 3-year-old son Yaar Zameen. Abdul told me that Yaar Zameen had diarrhea and was very weak, so he had brought him to this clinic because he knew that Islamic Relief was providing free health care.

He told me sadly that if he had had to pay he would never been able to afford it and his son would have gone without help.

Abdul fled from Swat with his family, including his five children, at the start of June. They have no friends or relatives here so are staying in the house of stranger and 16 members of his family are sharing one small room.

He told me that he feels useless and helpless; he cannot get a job and he cannot provide for his family. Everyday he goes out looking for work and for food, but often comes back empty handed. He said that the looks of expectation on the faces of his children and their disappointment when they see he has nothing, is too much to bear.

“I have huge responsibility taking care of my children and will do anything to make sure they do not suffer. Yet I feel so helpless,” he said.

With no work and no income Abdul, and many other men like him, is feeling depressed and frustrated as he has no way to protect and provide for his family. He cannot even provide food or water and has to hope that other people will be generous enough to give them what they need. And yet he cannot take them home because it is still too dangerous.

The people in this part of the world are strong and men’s identities are tied up with being the protector of the family. Pashtun men will rarely show their emotions and I was shocked that a young man like Abdul was sharing his troubles with me.

Abdul is only one year older than I am and has such an enormous burden on his shoulders, a burden I would struggle to meet. To see him suffering because he has lost his ability to provide for those that need him was heartbreaking and made me realise that conflict and displacement can have profound psychological effects on anyone; man or woman, young or old.


Post a Comment