Pakistan: Akkakhels start leaving Jalozai camp for home

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LANDI KOTAL: The repatriation of the internally displaced persons of Bara, currently residing at Jalozai camp in Nowshera district, was finally started on Thursday.

On the first day of repatriation, 66 Akkakhel families returned to their area after spending nearly six years at the camp.

“The returning families are simply overjoyed as they were issued Voluntary Return Forms (VRF) along with ATM cards which guarantee them cash amount of Rs10,000 for the journey and an immediate cash grant of Rs25,000,” a jubilant Najib Jan told Dawn by his mobile phone from Jalozai camp.

Najib Jan had been living at Jalozai camp with his three wives and 12 children since 2010 after he was forced to vacate his house in Akkakhel Maira when a militant group torched a number of houses of their opponents in the same locality.

He said that he along with his extended family would go back to his native home and start a life afresh.

“Most of the Akkakhel IDPs are now busy in uprooting their torn out tents at the camp. They are collecting their household items to embark on their journey towards Bara after years of impatient wait,” Mr Jan said.

Fata Disaster Management Authority along with the administration of Khyber Agency had set up registration desks at Jalozai camp to facilitate the return of all the Akkakhel families.

Officials had earlier announced that only Akkakhel families would be sent back in the first phase of Bara IDPs repatriation plan, which was started on March 30.

FDMA focal person Shah Daraz told Dawn that a total of 382 Akkakhel families were issued VRFs and 366 of them were also issued ATM cards, which would enable them to withdraw cash from the designated cash distribution points.

He, however, added that only 66 families opted to go to their homes in Akkakhel area of Bara on the first day while the rest preferred to wind up their temporary abode at the camp and then leave for Bara.

Mr Daraz said that as many as 81 children under the age of five were administered anti-polio vaccine at the registration point at the camp while the political administration on its part issued Return Facilitation Cards (RFC) to 363 families.

It could not be, however, ascertained as to what ‘facilities’ the Khyber Agency administration was providing to the returning IDPs after issuing them the said cards.

Repeated queries to the administrative officials concerned about the sort of assistance they provided to the IDPs departing Jalozai camp fell only on deaf ears as no one bothered to respond.

FDMA officials said that the return of Akkakhel families from Jalozai camp would be completed on April 30.

Meanwhile, registration of the Akkakhel families continued at the Meel Ward centre in Bara and officials said that 13,200 families had so far been registered at that centre since March 20.

Fata Red Crescent Society also distributed food packages amongst 633 more Akkakhel returning families at the Meel Ward centre.

The society has so far distributed food packages among 1,250 families with a total target of 10,000 Akkakhel families till the end of April.

WATER SUPPLY: The United Nations Development Programme in collaboration with Community Resilience Programme of Fata Secretariat on Thursday distributed Rs6.238 million among the community based organisations of Bara to initiate work on solar powered water supply schemes in Akkakhel and Shalobar areas.

Officials said that as many as eight drinking water schemes run by solar powered machines would be completed in the those localities of Bara by the end of June with a total cost of Rs12.477 million .

The projects would be entirely executed by local communities with no interference by the political administration and government contractors. Officials said that Fata Secretariat would provide technical assistance to the local communities along with keeping a close watch on the quality of development work.

The projects will provide clean drinking water to at least 5,700 internally displaced persons immediately after their return to their respective localities under the government repatriation plan.

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