Return monitoring report – Tirah Valley, May 2014

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I. Background

In mid-March 2013, fighting started between two non-state armed groups known as Ansar-ul-Islam (pro-government) and Lashkar-e-Islam backed by Tahreek-e- Taliban (TTP), which forced at least 17 000 families to flee from Bagh Maidan area of Tirah Valley.

The exodus took three different exit routes- via Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber agencies towards Peshawar, Nowshera Kohat, Hangu and Kurram Agency in particular. On 15 March 2013, the Government made an official notification and declared 98 villages of Bagh Maiden as conflict-affected areas. The displaced population was registered for humanitarian assistance at Jerma, Kohat and in New Durrani camp, Kurram agency. The registration process lasted till 5 May, 2013, with 17,140 families (79,839 individuals) registered including 6% in camps settings and 94% in hosting communities (UNHCR registration figures). On 25th June 2013 the area was declared clear and safe for return by the Law Enforcing Agencies. In line with the Standard Operating procedures on the Return of IDPs, binding the humanitarian community, in July 2013 the Protection Cluster conducted a Return Intention Survey to ascertain the voluntary character of the return.

The first phase of Tirah return process commenced on the 15th September and continued till 5th of November 2013. The process was led by the Government and supported by humanitarian community. By the end of the 1st phase of return, 6,187 families returned on VRF while 6,628 without VRF (non-registered IDPs), with approximately 50,000 IDPs still expected to return to Tirah Valley in early 2014. At the time of the return in phase 1, the Protection Cluster undertook a series of consultations with both the departing population and the first returnee populations in Tirah Valley (mission to Tirah valley conducted from 17- 19 September 2013) to better identify the voluntary and well-informed character of the return, the intentions of the remaining population, and the immediate needs of the returnees in their areas of origin

The results were summarized in a briefing note and lesson learnt shared with the authorities and the humanitarian community. In continuation of the return monitoring process, Protection Cluster has conducted visit to the return areas for post return monitoring from 25th to 29th March 2014 and issued report with relevant recommendations for the second phase of the Tirah return.

At the same time, through the grievance desk, cases of complains were registered by the IDPs, verified by UNHCR and NADRA as per the grievance desk SOPs and as a result 257 families were included in the list of IDPs eligible to receive VRFs thus raising the total number of verified families from 7,704 to 7,961. The second phase of Tirah return started on 7th May 2014 and will continue throughout the month of May.

Since March 2013, the Protection Cluster in KP/FATA engaged in monitoring the situation of the IDP families displaced from Tirah Valley, consulting the population in displacement, at embarkation points and in areas of return on their needs and concerns in order to contribute to better inform the humanitarian response. Following note presents finding of the consultations with returnees to Tirah valley in the second phase of return conducted at the embarkation point of Jerma in Kohat district from 8 to 10 May 2014.