Displaced from home: Mohmand residents seek refuge from ‘crossfire’

Published: December 29, 2010

A girl stands outside her tent at the Jalozai camp. This year, the camp was visited by Hollywood star and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, but the attention did little to improve the situation. PHOTO: FILE

JALOZAI: Deteriorating security situation in Mohmand Agency is compelling hundreds of families to abandon their homes and seek refuge in the camp for displaced persons in Jalozai in Nowshera district.

People, who moved into the camp over the past month, are living in miserable conditions and their registration process is yet to be completed. Most of them are living with other families, overcrowding their tents and straining scarce resources.

Authorities have closed down most camps for people displaced because of the military crackdown on militants in tribal areas and shifted the remaining people to Jalozai camp.

Currently, at least 17,000 families displaced by violence in Bajaur, Mohmand and Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency are staying here.

Abdul Salam, a tribal elder told The Express Tribune that over the past month, they received at least 2,000 more identity cards for registration, but the process is being delayed by authorities.

“The displaced people (mostly) belong to Baezai, Qandaharo and Safi tehsils. They left their homes after clashes between security forces and militants intensified,” he said. He added that many families preferred to live with their relatives in Charsadda, Peshawar and other parts of the country.

Salam added that scores of people were arriving at the Jalozai camp every day and inquiring about the registration process. However, authorities are yet to resume the process.

Maryam, an elderly woman from the Lakaro area in Safi tehsil, said that 12 members of her family managed to reach the camp a month ago with great difficulty. “We left our homes with what we had on our backs,” she said.

Baacha, a resident of the Bakhmal Shah area in Safi tehsil near the Afghan border said that he was staying with another displaced man for the past 10 days. He said that fierce clashes between security forces and militants were continuing in his area and residents were getting caught in the crossfire. “Militants descend on the area during the night and security forces in the day. People fear both and are sandwiched between them,” Baacha said.

Salim, a man from Qandahro tehsil, said that he and his brother were sharing a tent in the camp, adding that they had arrived a fortnight ago but had not yet received anything from the government.

“Both Taliban and the government are killing us. We are increasingly becoming targets of attacks from both sides,” he said.

He said that a few days ago, a family brought the body of a girl for burial to Tango tehsil in Charsadda district. “The authorities are not allowing families to enter with their belongings. Most of them used trails and other circuitous routes to get out of the fighting zone,” he added.

A relief worker at the camp said that over the past month, at least 393 families have arrived from the Safi and Qandahro tehsils of the Mohmand Agency.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2010.

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