Community Update

Sikh and Hindu Minorities of the Khyber Agency Seek Urgent Help

"The situation of Sikh and Hindu residents in the Khyber Agency areas has been bad since an Islamic tax (Jazia) was imposed on them by militants, under a threat of violence, a few years ago. But their situation has worsened recently due to military operations forcing them to seek refuge elsewhere. The shops of many Sikhs have had to close due to the curfews and worsening conditions. We appeal to the global community to donate funds which can help relocate Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to safer areas," said Herdyal Singh, UNITED SIKHS Project Coordinator in Pakistan.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), 63,000 families almost half a million people are estimated to have been recently displaced from the Khyber Agency.

"Amongst those in need are families of Satnam Singh and Sardar Singh, who were killed during the fighting between the security forces and militants last October. One of the shells landed on the shops of Satnam Singh and Sardar Singh in Shalobar Chowk of BARA market in the Khyber Agency. Satnam Singh died on the spot, and Sardar Singh was seriously injured and was admitted for treatment to the hospital nearby, but later died in this hospital." added Herdyal Singh, in an appeal he sent to UNITED SIKHS chapters.

"Each of the displaced families need to start afresh having left behind all they owned. The Minimum cost to set up a small business for the most distressed families is 2 lakh Pak rupees ($2,200 USD or 1400), which includes a shop 'security deposit'.

Donate by setting up a recurrent donation or a one-off donation at www.unitedsikhs.org/donate or call a UNITED SIKHS office nearest to you for donation by cheque or bank transfers.

25th June 2011, Peshawar, Pakistan - Due to the adverse conditions in Bara, in the Khyber Agency, after the security forces launched another military operation in April, displacement of people has increased. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) faced immense hardships whilst camping out in the open and waiting to register for food and shelter at different camps in and near Peshawar. Thousands of people are trapped in the Bara Tehsil of the Khyber Agency because of the continuing military operations.

Sardar Singh
Sardar Singh who was killed by shell fire

More than 70 Sikh and Hindu families who have been displaced have taken shelter in Gurudwara Bhai Joga Singh, Peshawar, Gurdwara Punja Saheb and with host communities. These families have no source of income to feed their families. They need urgent relief, and request food, Non Food Items (NFI) and hygiene kits. Due to this displacement the education of children of the displaced families is also seriously affected.

40 of the 70 families are in dire straits of which three families do not have a male member and are facing severe difficulties and can barely afford daily expenses of their family members.

Satnam Singh
Satnam Singh who was killed by shell fire

The main priority needs of these IDPs are Food, NFIs, livelihoods support, and health. To meet these needs all the families are keen to start a general store, cosmetics business, cloth business to feed their family.

"The Minimum cost to set up a small business for the most distressed families is 2 lakh Pak rupees ($2,200 USD or 1400), which includes a shop 'security deposit'. For further details of the families' needs, click here.

UNITED SIKHS addresses the Khyber IDPs
UNITED SIKHS addresses the Khyber IDPs

Amongst the IDPs needing help are Sikh families whose heads of family were either killed or injured by shell fire last October. During the fighting between the security forces and militants last year, one of the shells landed on the shops of two Sikhs, Satnam Singh and Sardar Singh in Shalobar Chowk of BARA market in the Khyber Agency. Satnam Singh died on the spot, and Sardar Singh was seriously injured and was admitted for treatment to the hospital nearby, but later died in this hospital.

Another shell hit the houses of Amarjeet Singh, an agency councilor and leader of the minority Sikh community in Kalanga area in Bara, and of Sardool Singh. Some of Sardool Singh's family members were also injured but mercifully there were no fatalities. "There is no one to look after the late Sardar Singh's family members. Sardar Singh is survived by his widow, and five children under 10. On the day Sardar Singh died in hospital, the family was struck by another tragedy. Sardar Singh's father also died due to illness. "I appeal to UNITED SIKHS to rehabilitate, and provide financial assistance to the bereaved family members", said Ranjit Singh, a nephew of the late Sardar Singh. "I was shocked to hear that my elder brother, Satnam Singh, was killed in Khyber Agency area during the fighting between the army and the Taliban. I appeal to UNITED SIKHS to rehabilitate the late Satnam Singh's family as they are very poor and have no money for the daily living expenses", said Mahinder Singh, the brother of late Satnam Singh.

You may watch a video appeal made by the families of Satnam Singh and Sardar Singh, by clicking UNITED SIKHS TV.

The UNITED SIKHS Relief Team met with the different Government organizations, like FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and the UN organisations to raise the issue of these IDPs to register their families quickly. Due to the continued efforts of the UNITED SIKHS, on 28th March 2012 a team consisting of International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), which visited Gurudwara Bhai Joga Singh Peshawar, assured the Sikh community that they will establish a separate registration cell and an Aid Point in the nearby community camp.

UNITED SIKHS, has, since December 2009, provided financial assistance to rehabilitate affected families who had to flee their homes in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan due to threats from the Taliban and the communal conflict. UNITED SIKHS also rehabilitated the family of Jaspal Singh who was beheaded and helped set up a shop for the family's income and paid the monthly school tuition fees his children.

UNITED SIKHS now appeals for donations in this worsening situation for the rehabilitation of these homeless families.

Please give generously to this cause, no donation is too little. Your donation will help the IDPs rebuild their lives and their communities.

For an earlier press release on UNITED SIKHS Pakistan IDP efforts, please click here.

Issued by:
Mejindarpal Kaur
Director
sikhaid@unitedsikhs.org
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