SWA IDPs to return home from April 10


Registration process for internally displaced persons as a precursor to repatriation underway in Tank district

Returning IDPs given Rs 35,000 per family, in addition to other equipment and gear before their travel home

Hundreds of displaced families have registered themselves to repatriate to their hometowns in the war-battered tribal areas of South Waziristan, where they will have to start their lives from scratch as their houses and other infrastructures have been razed to the ground during the seven-year-long military offensive against the militants.

The registration process for internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a precursor to their repatriation to their hometowns started at the political compound in district Tank, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on Thursday.

The process of registration will continue for ten days and the repatriation of IDPs to their hometowns will start on April 10.

In this phase of repatriation, thousands of families will be repatriated to almost 39 villages including Makin, Ladha and Sarwekai.

The local administration has taken the necessary steps to facilitate the IDPs to register themselves without any hassle, said a cheerful tribal elder Asmat Mehsud while talking to Pakistan Today.

An official said that no stone would be left unturned to ensure hassle-free repatriation of the IDPs to their hometowns, as they have already rendered matchless sacrifices in the war against terrorism.

Thousands of families were forced to leave their homes in the wake of the military operations some seven years ago to purge the area of anti-state elements and their collaborators.

The displaced families were forced to live in miserable conditions in makeshift homes in camps as well as rented houses. Most of them were pleased to hear that they would be returning to their homes after such a long time.

According to sources, 2,800 families – about 19,600 people – have been repatriated to the areas of Chagmalai, Sararogha, Sarwakai Shahoor, Mandana, Siplatoi, Spinkai Raghzai and Kotkai so far.

Asmat said that they were told they would be return to their homes within two weeks when they were forced to leave their hometowns in 2009. However, he said seven years on, a large number of people are still living as IDPS in various parts of the country.

Federal Minister for State and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch admitted during his address to a scholarship awards ceremony for Mehsud IDPs’ talented and deserving students from South Waziristan organised by National Testing Service (NTS) that the government had failed to ensure repatriation of IDPs after nine long years.

The tribal elder further said that during these years, they have been left with nothing; their businesses, livestock, access to education, and even their homes have been destroyed. Even then, he said, he was pleased to be returning home.

FDMA officials said that every returning family has been given Rs 35,000 cash, of which Rs 10,000 has been given as transportation grant and the remaining Rs 25,000 was given as cash grant. In addition, the FDMA says it has provided the returning IDPs with shelter, non-food items (such as hygiene kits, blankets, etc), and has helped in the reconstruction of their homes and businesses in the areas declared safe in South Waziristan.

Gul Badshah, another local, said the day they had been waiting for so long, had finally arrived.

“Summer is fast approaching when it is next to impossible to live in makeshift camps, where no basic facilities are available.”

He thanked the government for its decision of sending the IPDs back to their hometowns and for the ongoing development projects in the war-torn areas, where new schools and colleges are being built.

Tribesmen demanded of the government to speed up the development activities in the militancy-hit areas so as to eliminate extremism in the long-run.