Pakistan: Hundreds of Tirah IDPs still await return plan

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LANDI KOTAL: Authorities are yet to announce any plan for repatriation of hundreds of displaced families of Tirah valley in Khyber Agency though the federal government and Fata Disaster Management Authority had earlier announced that all internally displaced persons of Fata would be sent back to their homes till the end of this year.

Sources in Jamrud told this correspondent that around 1,800 Kukikhel families were even denied registration since their displacement in 2012 from areas in Tirah close to the Afghan border. They said that not a single family from the region had returned since the start of repatriation of Tirah IDPs in 2014 nor were they provided any assistance.

Officials of the political administration said that the Kukikhel areas were yet to be de-notified by the security forces despite the announcement of end of the Khyber-2 ground operations in the region early this year.

While militants make their presence felt in the Kukikhel high regions, some 1,200 Bar Qambarkhel families are desperate to return to their homes as they have been assured on a number of occasions that the area which has a common border with Kurram tribal region had been cleared of militants long ago.

The FDMA had suspended the monthly ration of Bar Qambarkhel families belonging to Jutt Dara, Owch Naw, Tajju and Yagu Mela in start of the year. Afterwards, it closed down the New Durrani Camp near Sadda in Kurram Agency where most of the Bar Qambarkhel people were residing after most of these families were issued Voluntary Returns Forms (VRF).

Wajid Khan, a spokesman for the affected families, told Dawn by phone from Kurram Agency that no one had given them any specific reason for the persistent delay in their return. “We have knocked at almost every door to get a go-ahead for our return, but nobody gave us a satisfactory answer,” Wajid Khan said.

He alleged that the government had expelled them from New Durrani Camp without making any alternative arrangements of living for over 1,000 families.

“We were displaced three times; first from Tirah due to militancy, then from rented houses to Durrani camp; and finally from the camp this year,” an aggrieved Khan said while lamenting that all the official assistance had been suspended after they were issued VRFs.

Wajid Khan along with some of his co-tribesmen had also conducted secret visits of their area and told this scribe that a large number of their houses had been affected due to rains and snowfall during the last four years of their displacement. He claimed that household items had been stolen from their houses. He also accused some neighbouring Kurram tribes of unlawfully cutting forests in Jutt Dara and adjoining areas.

He said that with no positive response from the official quarters the Bar Qambarkhel IDPs would stage protest demonstrations both in front of the Governor House and Khyber House in Peshawar on Tuesday (Dec 27).

Published in Dawn December 27th, 2016

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