Pakistan

Protection cluster mission to Kurram 22- 26 April 2014

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I. Background

Kurram Tribal Agency is one of the most scenic and picturesque valley of Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan, having the geographic distinction of sharing a border with Afghanistan on three sides. The Agency is bounded on the north and west by Afghanistan (the provinces of Ningarhar and Paktia respectively), on the east by Orakzai and Khyber Agencies, on the southeast by District Hangu and on the south by North Waziristan Agency. The agency is 115 kilometres long with a total area of 3,380 square kilometres.

Kurram Agency takes its name from the river Kurram, which passes through it. The headquarters of the agency is located at Parachinar. Kurram Agency is the only tribal region in the country’s semi-autonomous seven tribal territories which has a large number of Shiites - the rest of the six tribal agencies are overwhelmingly inhabited by Sunni Muslims. According to official figures, its total population is 500,000, with 58 percent Sunni and 42 percent Shiite. The majority of the Shiites live in the upper part of the Kurram Agency, while Sunnis inhabit lower and central Kurram. The population of Kurram valley consists of a number of tribes, namely Turi, Bangash, Parachamkani, Massozai, Alisherzai, Zaimusht, Mangal, Kharotai, Ghalgi and Hazara. There was also a sizeable Sikh population but most of them have left the valley. Sectarian violence is not a new phenomenon in Kurram Agency where well over 4000 people have been killed in clashes between the Sunni and Shia tribes since the decade of 1980s. Kurram Agency is divided into three tehsils: upper Kurram, lower Kurram and central Kurram. There are three major towns in Kurram agency, namely: Parachinar, Sadda and Baggan.