Returnees in Laghman’s Gambiri Desert lead miserable life
JALABAD (Pajhwok): Hundreds of refugees who have returned from Pakistan and currently living in Gambiri desert of eastern Laghman province complain about ‘improper behavior’ of the Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel.
However, local officials said the returnees have occupied land belonging to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The returnees say they lacked potable water and tried to dig up water wells but ANA soldier didn’t allow them to do so. An elder of the bout 500 returnees, Haji Ghulam, told Pajhwok Afghan News the ANA soldiers had been creating problems for them over the past seven days.
He said they not only lacked water but were also not allowed by the ANA personnel manning the post in Khewa district to transfer construction equipment and material to their area.
“Here in the desert strong winds blow that uproots our tents. We want to build homes but ANA soldiers don’t permit us.”
Ghulamullah said ANA soldiers had discussed with him a compromise on their part and it seemed they were paving the way for bribe.
He said the land they were residing on was their ancestral property, but ANA soldiers insisted it belonged to MoD.
Rahmatullah Hotak, another resident, said ANA soldiers had also beaten some of the returnees who were also not allowed to go bazaar for bringing household items.
However, 201st Selab Military Corps spokesman in the east, Maj. Shirin Aqa Faqiri, denied the ANA personnel had asked people for money.
He said a special ANA infrastructure-controlling unit existed in the area to protect MoD infrastructures. He said the returnees had occupied MoD land and that was why they were not allowed to construct homes on the land or dig up well.
He urged the returnees to name ANA soldiers who had demanded money from them in order legal action could be taken against them.
Meanwhile, Laghman governor’s spokesman Sarhad Zwak said the returnees had arbitrarily started living in the Gambiri Desert. The local administration had initiated work on special townships at Baba Desert for the repatriates.
He termed the returnees as land grabbers, saying if they were really in need, they should lodge a complaint with the governor’s house.
He said the returnees would be provided residential plots in townships at the Baba Desert and would be provided other assistance as well.
Laghman refugee and repatriations director Eng. Mohammad Kazim Haqpal said the returnees faced water shortage and had been residing in the area on their own. His department could no longer provide them aid, he added.
He said his department had provided potable water and other assistance to the returnees for the first four months, but for persisting aid, they should reside in legal townships.
The Gambiri Dag (desert) is a government land where living is very difficult because hot winds blow in summer and cold winds in winter besides the shortage of water.
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