Displaced from tribal areas: 24 families return, others stay put

Tribal elders seek assurances on security, education and food.

Manzoor Ali April 16, 2011


At least 24 displaced families belonging to Mohmand Agency have returned home under a voluntary repatriation programme launched by the authorities, officials said. However, a majority of the thousands of displaced families are still wary of returning to the war-ravaged parts of the tribal areas, where they say nothing has been rebuilt.

Jalozai camp administrator Noor Akbar Afridi told The Express Tribune that, so far, 24 families have left for areas declared safe by the authorities under the repatriation programme which was launched on Monday.

He added that 46 more families have filled out return forms during the past two days.

He said that transportation arrangements were made by the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) for all those who left on Monday. However, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has taken over the rest of the repatriation process.

“The returning families are being provided with a tent by UNHCR and transportation charges are being covered by FDMA,” Akbar said.

However, the returning families are not being provided any kind of monetary assistance. Akbar said that these families will be compensated after their return, as per the government policy, depending on the extent of damages caused to their properties.

The number of families quoted as being willing to return is a negligible fraction of the total number of displaced people.

At least 19,272 families from Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber Agency are living in the Jalozai IDP camp in Nowshera district, while thousands of others are residing with host families or in rented homes.

Jalozai camp hosts around 4,678 families from Khyber Agency, 1,580 from Mohmand Agency and 13,014 families from Bajaur.

According to officials, the voluntary repatriation program will continue till May 20.

Also on Tuesday, a jirga of displaced tribal elders belonging to Bajaur was held at the Jalozai camp to chalk out a strategy regarding the repatriation process. A tribal elder told The Express Tribune that the participating elders were of the view that there was no peace in their areas, the education facilities were in shambles, and they had no food or cattle to sustain themselves in that area.

The elders said that if the authorities agree to provide these things, they were ready to return, otherwise they would not. The elder said that a jirga of around 18 elders has left for Islamabad to present these demands to the concerned MNA. He added that their next course of action will be decided in light of how their demands are considered by the authorities.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th,  2011.


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