Afghan families returning from Waziristan seek UNHCR aid
KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Afghan refugee families who have returned to southeastern Khost province from Pakistan’s Waziristan region say they want the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to treat them like other Afghan refugees.
The families, who fled the Pakistani military operation Zarb-i-Azb against local Taliban insurgents in Waziristan, say they are in dire economic straits
According to the International Organization of Migration in Khost province, 2,734 Afghan families had returned from Waziristan and are currently living in various parts of the province.
Actual resident of northern Kunduz province, Jannat Gul, who returned from Waziristan to Khost nearly two years ago, told Pajhwok Afghan News that he lost all his wealth to the operation in Waziristan.
He said the Pakistani government had issued them refugee cards which were going to expire two months later, but UNHCR was yet to pay them any attention.
“We live here in houses against high rent, we demand of the Afghan government and UNHCR to give us the rights being given to other Afghan returning families,” Gul said.
On behalf of other returning families, Jannat Gul also urged the Pakistani government to compensate them for businesses, vehicles and belongings they left behind in Miranshah.
“We spent 30 years in Miranshah where we left behind houses full of household items. Our goods in markets were confiscated by Pakistani forces who closed shops. In Khost, we have only received one bag of flour per family from UNHCR.”
Pakistan some time ago announced the conclusion of the operation against hardline elements in north Waziristan, asking the displaced families to return to their homes.
The Pakistani government has promised assistance with the returning families in rebuilding their houses and that is why Afghan families who lived there before the operation have the same demand from the Pakistani government.
Another returnee from Waziristan, Amir Jan, said he had the right to be given the more than $300 UNHCR gives to all Afghan families returning from Pakistan.
“We urge UNHRC to investigate our cards and find a solution to this because Pakistan is not allowing us to enter there and return to Afghanistan from Peshawar.”
Pajhwok tried to seek comments in this regard from UNHCR officials in Khost, but did not succeed.
The Khost governor’s spokesman, Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, said though the Afghan families returning from Waziristan were not registered with UNHCR, they had been able to attract aid for them.
“We are continuing our efforts so that the families from Waziristan are given the same assistance by UNHCR being given to other families.”
While IOM officials in Khost say the families returning from Waziristan had been assisted with food and non-food items, but the families say their long tern problems have not been addressed.
The Operation Zarb-i-Azb was launched in June 2014 and lasted for two years, displacing nearly half a million people.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.