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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan IDPs reluctant to return

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, July 13, IRNA -- An ongoing UN survey of internally displaced persons from various conflicted-affected parts of FATA, adjacent to Afghan border, found main reasons they don't want to return are insecurity, damage assets and a lack of employment opportunities.

According to a 9 July humanitarian update by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 35 percent of more than 15,000 displaced families surveyed in Peshawar district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said insecurity was preventing their return to neighboring FATA areas.

Twenty-six percent cited damage to their land or housing as their reason for staying put, and 17 percent said lack of jobs.

Some 60 percent of those assessed in the ongoing inter-cluster vulnerability assessment said they had lived in Peshawar for more than a year. Fifty-three percent said they came from Bajaur and Mohmand, two of the seven agencies of FATA.

"Traditionally, these people are deeply attached to their soil. Stories rooted in their homelands are passed on from generation to generation. So any decision to stay away is a hard one," said Peshawar-based psychologist Humaira Ahmed, a volunteer at Jalozai IDP camp outside Peshawar city.

Better life: Some IDPs said they were contemplating moving permanently from places such as Bajaur to larger cities in search of better jobs, schools and security.

Incidents such as the 9 July suicide car bombing in Mohmand, which killed at least 106 people, add to IDPs' sense of fear and reluctance to return.

The IDPs from South Waziristan tribal region also are unwilling to return as Taliban militants are still active in some parts of the area, locals say.

Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq has also asked the thousands of displaced persons from Mehsood tribe not to return as the militants have arrived in Waziristan and will launch guerilla attacks on the security forces.

Thousands of Pakistani troops launched major offensive against Taliban in October last year and the declared victory in January this year.

Despite government efforts to convince the Waziristan IDPs to return and a process of registration also started for the repatriation but majority of the displaced people are reluctant to return over security concerns.

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