Return of North Waziristan IDPs continues at snail’s pace

Published May 4, 2015
Only 230 displaced families have returned to their native areas..—AFP/File
Only 230 displaced families have returned to their native areas..—AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Although officials claim that most areas of North Waziristan Agency have been cleared of the militants, yet return process of the internally displaced persons to the conflict stricken tribal area is going at a snail’s pace.

Officials said that only 230 displaced families had returned to their native area in some pockets of North Waziristan since the repatriation programme was launched with big pump and show on March 31.

An official dealing with the return process of IDPs in Fata said that the unregistered families had also gone back to their homes. He admitted that the return of IDPs to North Waziristan was going very slow as compared to that of Khyber Agency.

Also read: IDPs’ return to North Waziristan begins

“The civil administration can send entire displaced population back to their homes within a month if the area is de-notified as conflict zone,” said the official, adding that local administration and Fata Disaster Management Authority had very limited role in the discourse of North Waziristan.

He said that FDMA had started return programme of IDPs to Khyber Agency on March 20 and more or less 20,000 families had been sent back to their homes so far, while on the other hand only 230 families had returned to North Waziristan.

Only 230 displaced families have returned to their native areas

Officials said that 180 displaced families were sent to their homes in North Waziristan by April 25 and additional 50 families were dispatched to Mirali subdivision on May 1 when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif were visiting the area.

The government had announced return programme of IDPs for Khyber, North Waziristan and South Waziristan agencies in March. It was announced that 2,500 families would return to South Waziristan, 20,000 to Khyber Agency and 18,000 to North Waziristan Agency in the first phase of the return process.

The National Database and Registration Authority has verified that 103,508 families had been displaced from North Waziristan in the wake of operation Zarb-i-Azb in June 2014.

The local administration after getting security clearance had notified Shamiri, Shashikhel, Shera Tela and Spinwam areas where IDPs would be repatriated in the first phase.

The government has made it compulsory for the IDPs to sign undertaking before returning to their homes in North Waziristan under which the tribal people would have to take some responsibilities including provision of security to government installations and officials and handing over wanted elements to the authorities.

Official sources said that the cutoff date for the return of IDPs was Dec 2016. The process could prolong in case of scarcity of resources and funds, they added.

The local tribesmen said that they had been told by the officials that the return process to Miramshah, the headquarters of North Waziristan, would start in June 2016.

However, another official said that despite the statements that most areas of the tribal agency had been cleared, the ground reality was totally different. “Situation in Mirali and Miramshah is not conducive for the return of civilians,” he said, adding that the government had to rehabilitate damaged infrastructure, particularly health and education facilities, before return of IDPs.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2015

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