IDPs’ repatriation from Hangu

IDPs in Orakzai have to contend with not just uncertainty, inadequate amenities but also goods stolen by miscreants.

Editorial January 18, 2013
If IDPs cannot return, they should be given alternative solutions with adequate realistic assistance. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

One cannot fathom what it is like to be forced out of one’s home and made to live in camps and constantly be told that one will be able to return as soon as the area is declared safe. This is how it has been for residents of Orakzai Agency for four years. The internally-displaced persons (IDPs) have been settled in Hangu since 2009, living in subpar conditions but all the while eager to return home and unable to do so because of the unstable law and order situation in Orakzai according to a report published in The Express Tribune earlier this week. In a meeting held on January 13 and attended by activists, tribal elders and IDPs, participants called on the government to provide people living in camps with better facilities, such as adequate schools and other infrastructure that can enable them to get jobs. But of utmost import was the IDPs’ repatriation, a demand that in the past four years seems to have turned hollow.

Those displaced by the violence and/or militancy in places like the Orakzai Agency have had to contend with not just uncertainty and inadequate amenities but also issues like not receiving goods meant specifically for them because they have been stolen by miscreants. Over the course of the years, jirgas have been convened with political agents in an attempt to get IDPs to return home but have failed because of fears that the area is still not safe. The IDPs cannot be blamed for feeling this way; after all, no one wants to endure the trauma of being uprooted again. This is why the government needs to address this matter more seriously as four years is too long a time for people to be living in camps and be so unsettled. If they cannot return, they should be given alternative solutions with adequate realistic assistance. Political agents from the agencies familiar with tribal customs must be part of the dialogue so as to ensure a smooth process of repatriation or rehabilitation.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2013.


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