HANGU / PESHAWAR: Hundreds of displaced families from Khyber, South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Kurram and Orakzai agencies will finally start the journey back; if all goes according to the multi-stakeholder plans discussed on Thursday.
In the first phase, 700 uprooted families from Orakzai will start their repatriation on October 6 after a displacement which lasted eight years. According to Orakzai Political Agent Muhamad Zubair who was speaking at the agency headquarters on Thursday, the repatriation of IDPs of Lower and Central Orakzai will start from Togh Sarai in Hangu.
Meanwhile, in the city, the Policy and Strategy Meeting (PSM), the highest forum in the province for relief and rehabilitation activities, was held with Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan in the chair. The participants of the annual meeting include the K-P government, the military and local and international non-profits and humanitarian organisations.
In addition to the internally displaced persons (IDP), the issues discussed included travel NOCs, project implementation NOCs and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Chitral.
Participants of the meeting were informed that over 97,081 displaced people from Khyber Agency and 27,590 from North Waziristan had returned home as yet. In addition, 19,728 IDPs from South Waziristan Agency had been repatriated.
For the return process, over Rs1.98 billion was given to the families in transport and return grants.
While addressing the forum, Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan said the government acknowledged the support of international humanitarian organisations. He said the provincial government would ensure security to partner NGOs.
International partners working with the K-P government were asked to send their proposals, pointing out areas they wished to visit, to procure the travel NOCs. Similarly, Relief Rehabilitation & Settlement Secretary Tariq Rashid said the Federal Ministry of Interior was working on drafting terms of references for NOCs for both local and international non-profits to be able to rollout their relief projects.
Touching upon the matter of Chitral which was recently ravaged by floods, Amjad said international non-profit entities would continue with their assistance and support for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the district. Rashid shared a relief operation was under way in Chitral and would continue till the end of winter. He said the construction of Lowari Tunnel would be completed by December 2016.
Under the guv
According to a handout issued by the governor’s press secretary on Thursday, Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmed Khan will supervise the repatriation process. In the first phase, 700 displaced families from the Togh Sarai Camp in Hangu will set off for their native Orakzai Agency.
The governor, soon after returning from Hajj, ordered authorities to ensure the safe return of the IDPs who, he said, had sacrificed everything for the sake of the country. Mehtab said the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were among the main priorities of the government. He added tribesmen must be appreciated for their sacrifices during military Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
Quoting the FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA), the handout stated the phase-wise return of more than 300,000 displaced families to their native areas started in March 2015. It added 99,115 registered and 44,631 unregistered families had returned thus far.
The return process was in line with the international humanitarian principals of being safe, dignified, informed and voluntary. Every effort had been made to focus on maximum IDP facilitation, added the governor’s statement.
The return of these displaced people was divided into four phases which would end in December 2016.
FDMA also provided compensation to all the NADRA-verified Fata returnees who signed their voluntary return form (VRF). Moreover, added the handout, a housing survey was also launched by the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.