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Humanitarian Action in Pakistan 2005-2010Challenges, Principles, and Politics

Over the past five years, Pakistan has witnessed three major crises affecting up to 18 million people. The nature and scale of these crises were different. Two were disasters caused by natural hazards: the 2005 earthquake (affecting 3.5 million people) and the 2010 floods (affecting more than 20 million people). The 2008-2010 Internally Displaced People (IDP) crisis was triggered by an internal conflict and displaced 4.2 million people from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Facing these different and significant crises in such a short period of time, humanitarian actors had to adapt rapidly and faced dilemmas that were new to them in the context of Pakistan.

This paper examines the impact of the three above-mentioned crises on the evolution of the humanitarian system and its ability to respond to emergencies in Pakistan since 2005. It follows a chronological order, looking first at the legacy of the 2005 earthquake response on the humanitarian system, and second at the influence it had on its ability to respond to the 2008-2010 IDP crisis, and finally it explores the challenges humanitarians had to face at the onset of the flood crisis.

The paper is one of several being produced for a major research project on Humanitarian Action and Politics.