Around 38,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in Jalozai camp have returned to Bajaur and Mohmand Agency.
According to official sources, the IDPs were registered by UNHCR, whose staff monitored the entire process to ensure their safe return, besides providing funds and transportation to them. They said UNHCR has also established a warehouse in Khar in Bajaur and Ghalanai in Mohmand to provide basic household supplies to returning families and has given tents to all those families whose homes were destroyed during the war. Apart from that, World Food Programme has awarded assistance in cash to the IDPs under different programmes, while UNICEF has provided hygiene kits to the people. WHO is also offering health-care facilities through a partner organization in the area.
Another five hundred families have returned to South Waziristan from Kour IDP Camp in Tank District with UN and government help to rebuild their lives since major fighting broke out against the Taliban. The process is expected to see 8,000 families go to more than 10 villages in South Waziristan.
Displacement in these areas began in 2008 in the wake of a crackdown against terrorists from tribal areas of Pakistan. Since then, more than 21,000 families (around 147,000 people) have been registered at Jalozai. However, the vast majority of the people (around 90 per cent) lived outside the camps. It is estimated almost 5,000 families (26,000 individuals) still remain in the camp. The government has declared all parts of Bajaur excluding Loi Sam and Tobe as safe for residents, and it is working to identify an alternative site in Bajaur for 3,000 families belonging to Loi Sam in the meantime.
Jalozai has long been one of the largest camps for refugees, and prior to 2008 it was occupied by thousands of Afghan refugees.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2011.