Final phase of South Waziristan IDPs’ return begins on Tuesday

PESHAWAR: The final phase of the repatriation of South Waziristan Agency’s internally displaced persons will begin on Tuesday (July 25) possibly marking the ‘complete’ return of 71,124 registered dislocated families to their homes.

Mian Adil Zahoor, assistant director (operations and relief) at the Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), told Dawn that around 3,500 displaced families would return to South Waziristan Agency in the final phase.

He said the displaced persons, who intentionally didn’t want to return, would be de-notified as IDPs and
that the authority would stop their food ration and other relief assistance after de-notification.

Tribesmen not going back to be de-notified as displaced persons, won’t get food ration, other relief assistance

“After the return of these 3,500 families, the backlog of IDPs from South Waziristan will come down to zero,” he said, adding that the repatriation of displaced persons to Orakzai and Kurram agencies had already been completed.

The FDMA has already de-notified around 65,000 Fata families (around half a million people) as IDPs.
These families have taken up residence in settled areas of the country, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“All de-notified families have submitted their voluntary return forms to the FDMA. These families received cash assistance but didn’t return to native lands,” said Adil Zahoor.

According to the FDMA, 95.16 per cent return of IDPs to South Waziristan Agency has been completed so far.

The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has verified a total of 71,124 displaced families.

The civilians were forced to leave homes when the security forces launched the Rah-i-Nijat operation against militants in Mehsud area of South Waziristan in 2009.

Militancy and nine years long delay in the return of IDPs caused colossal damages to properties, especially houses.

The returnees complain about a lack of basic needs in native territories, which, they insist, discourages their rehabilitation.

A journalist from South Waziristan said half of the repatriated families returned to Tank, Dera Ismail, Karachi and other areas due to unavailability of basic facilities like healthcare, education, drinking water, shelter and electricity in hometowns.

“The people submitted voluntary return forms, got cash assistance and came back to Tank and Dera Ismail Khan,” he said, adding that almost half of the Mehsud population had shifted back to settled areas.

The return of IDPs to North Waziristan and Khyber agencies hangs in balance apparently due to the delicate security situation, especially the ongoing operation Khyber-IV in Rajgal area bordering Afghanistan.

The return of families migrated to Afghanistan from North Waziristan Agency has been temporarily suspended. The government has brought back a total of 4,911 families from Afghanistan via the Ghulam Khan checkpoint and around 1,500 will be repatriated.

The tribal people had migrated to Afghanistan after the Pakistan Army launched the Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan in June 2014.

The officials said several pockets in North Waziristan had not been de-notified as conflict zones that caused delay in the complete return of IDPs in these two tribal agencies.

The FDMA says 18,120 Nadra-verified families from North Waziristan and 1,500 families from Khyber Agency are waiting for their return.

It has announced that the repatriation of displaced families to Dandy Derpakhel area near Miramshah will begin on August 28.

However, the IDPs from Miramshah Town and Datakhel tehsil have yet to receive timeframe for return to hometowns.

Adil Zahoor said the complete return of IDPs might take three to four months.

The government had initially fixed Nov 2016 as the cutoff date for ending a decade-long misery of IDPs.

Our Correspondent from Bannu adds: Elders of Madakhel, the sub-section of Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, have complained about delay in the return of IDPs to North Waziristan Agency and shortage of facilities for displaced families in Bakakhel Camp.

The complaint was made during a jirga held here on Saturday.

The participants set a one-week deadline for the authorities to ensure the provision of basic needs at the camp warning they would set up a protest camp in front of Parliament House in Islamabad of the demand wasn’t met.

“The camp has virtually become an interment centre, where tribal people live a miserable life,” Malik Eid Mohammad Khan told the jirga.

He complained that the members of Madakhel tribe hadn’t been given tokens required by IDPs for repatriation.

The elders warned that the IDPs would agitate if the government further delayed their return.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2017

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