400 refugees expelled from Khyber stuck in NangarharBy Abdul Moeed Hashmi Mar 22, 2011 - 11:47
JALALABAD (PAN): Hundreds of Afghan refugees, expelled from the tribal areas of Pakistan, have been given shelter by locals in eastern Nangarhar province.
They say they have received no assistance from the government or from non-government agencies.
Pakistani security officials destroyed their homes and forced them out of the Khyber agency last month. Pakistan said they had no legal documents and were involved in criminal and other destabilising activities.
According to Hazrat Khan Khaksar, the governor of Momand Dara district, about 400 Afghan refugees are currently being given shelter in his district.
“They were living in Lwargi, Shah Kas and Pacha Mina areas of Khyber agency, but were forced to leave by Pakistani security officials,” he said.
“About 400 refugees have settled in people’s homes in Atmanzai, Daki, Ghaski, Daman, Gardi Ghaws, and Basmol areas of Momand Dara.
“No one has helped them so far,” he added.
Sead Alam, a tribal elder of Momand Dara, said the Pashtun code of providing anyone with hospitality meant they could not allow the refugees to spend a night out in the desert.
“So we brought them to our houses and gave them space for living,” he said.
Some of the returnees have land, but in far off areas, while others do not have any possessions at all.
“Without any prior notice, Pakistani security officials bulldozed our houses,” said Jamal Khan, one of the returnees.
“Our boxes of clothes were buried under rubble, dust and soil; even the Russians weren't so cruel,” he said.
Hazrat Hassan, 60, a returnee, said he and his family had spent six nights out in the cold with no roof over their heads.
“May Allah never bring this kind of situation to anyone anywhere. We lost everything, our house has been turned to dust and mud”, said Shiama , 30, who was baking bread in the house of a family who had taken her in.
Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said they had asked the department of returnees, the Afghan Red Crescent Society, the Natural Disaster Management Authority and a variety of international non-governmental organisations to help.
“These organisations have enough resources in their warehouses to help the returnees,” he said.
The returnees will be given food, clothes and blankets, he said.