Waziristan’s Returning IDPs Find Broken Homes And Broken Promises

Posted April 22nd, 2015 at 4:32 pm (UTC+0)
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By Wagma Jalawan
Pakistan’s displaced families from North Waziristan and other tribal regions are returning to their homes with despair _ they found their homes in shambles, no presence of medical facilities and failed promises of the state.
A resident of South Waziristan, Azam Khan, spoke with VOA Deewa about the situation in his hometown. He said they were a symbol of suffering because when they reached their homes it was nightfall and the military’s promises of providing them basic necessities, proved to be wrong. He said four families were handed out just one tent which could not accommodate everyone and they had to spend the night out in the open without beds and blankets. He said because of the uncertainty of the circumstances they were worried about their future as they don’t know whom to trust. He stressed that because of the operation everything is in shambles now and deciding to repatriate the people while the areas are totally destructed is not going to be a good move by the government. He said there are no health centers and medicines. If someone gets sick Azam Khan Said “they are not available and these things should be provided first if a normal rehabilitation is what is intended by the government.”
For a decade now residents of Pakistan’s tribal regions have been fleeing their homes because of fighting between security forces and militants. The latest population to be uprooted are residents of North Waziristan, where a military offensive against militants has forced nearly 1.7 million people to leave their homes and migrate to safer areas.
While the migrants, also called internally displaced people or IDPs, may find relative safety, their living conditions symbolize misery.
North Waziristan residents left their homes, as if in an overnight exodus, and settled in areas of neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Many had to settle down in camps in deserted plains near the city of Bannu and elsewhere.
Military officials say the anti-militant offensive, code-named Zarb-e-Azb, has been a success and large areas of North Waziristan have been retaken from militants. As the offensive continues, government has also started the process to repatriate the IDPs to some areas in North and South Waziristan from mid-March. FATA Disaster Management Authority, the government’s relief agency, has said so far 4,992 families have repatriated to South Waziristan, at least two years ago. Some families have decided to go back to North Waziristan where army has claimed that 25 villages of Mir Ali subdivision have been cleared of militants. The army says 16000 families will soon be given a green signal to return to their areas and homes. But so far only 97 families have in fact returned to North Waziristan. Despite official promises of help, many IDPs are reluctant to return to their homes, citing a lack of security, broken and destroyed homes and infrastructure.
About those who have returned to North Waziristan, it is virtually impossible to know from them first hand because communication lines are still not working and reporters are not allowed by the military to travel there independently.
But residents of South Waziristan, who have reached their homes were interviewed via VOA Deewa women program, said the returning families were faced with uncertain conditions where they saw a total destruction of homes and buildings upon arrival and despite government promises, there was no assistance to be seen.
A tribal student who is students’ organization president at Gomal University Manzur Khan told Deewa radio that he was harassed by the security checks posts that are laid out every two miles. He said three months ago he visited his home but when he went back again his home was totally demolished and schools and other markets in the area were non-existent. He blamed military airstrikes for the destruction that he said has left dust where their homes once stood. He said Waziristan people were treated like they were unwanted and not like citizens of the country. Khan said people of South Waziristan should be given be liberty and freedom like all other citizens of the country. He demanded that media be allowed to access their areas so that media could report the military’s treatment of the local residents.
The IDPs’ return to their homes was believed to be on a promise of security and provision of basic facilities to the returning tribesmen, including cash assistance, food, healthcare facilities and schools. But the IDPs have different stories to tell.

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