Displaced Bajaur people refuse to return

Published Sep 01, 2008 12:00am

ISLAMABAD, Aug 31: Tens of thousands of internally displaced people from the Bajaur tribal agency are refusing to return to their homes despite the government’s announcement of a temporary ceasefire during the month of Ramazan because of fear that fighting between the Islamic militants and security forces may continue regardless of the truce offer.

A DawnNews correspondent who travelled all the way to the largest refugee camp in Munda says the inflow of refugees has continued from the troubled area which looks like a virtual war zone.

As security forces launched their offensive against the militants in Bajaur Agency several weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of people left their homes to save their lives.

It is already being described by some relief agencies as one of the biggest case of internal displacement in Pakistan.

The government has announced to halt the operation in Bajaur during the holy month of Ramazan, but the return of all the displaced people might not be possible in a few days.

Several relief camps have been set up in Lower Dir, Timergarah, Dargai and other parts of the Frontier province to accommodate the displaced people.

In some of the remote refugee camps where relief aid is slow to reach, the condition of the displaced people is said to be extremely bad, raising the fear of starvation and disease.

“My house was destroyed. What should I do? There is no one except Allah who can listen to my prayers,” mourns Bacha Awal Khan, in the Munda relief camp in Lower Dir.

The camp is closest to Bajaur Agency, hence accommodates thousands of displaced people. But the life away from the comforts of home is painful. Majority of the displaced people could not bring their essential belongings with them.

Besides, the food they get in the relief camp is not enough. Several displaced people complain against the quality of food and attitude of the management of the camps.

A special report on the plight of the internally displaced people of Bajaur, ‘Homeless in the Homeland’, which is based on the first-hand account from the Munda camp and adjoining areas would be telecast on DawnNews TV at 7.30pm on Monday.

The special report focuses on children who make a new but unique generation of Pakistani refugees in Pakistan.

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