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July 13, 2009

IDPs’ return starts today

 
July 13, 2009

PESHAWAR: Spending more than two months in camps after the commencement of the military operation in Malakand Division, over two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are set to return home from today (Monday). The convoys of the IDPs would be streaming in the beautiful valley amid tight security arrangements, backed by military gunship helicopters. The security is aimed at avoiding any untoward incident during the IDPs’ return. The Emergency Response Unit (ERU), a body formed to deal the issue of the IDPs, said that about 5,760 families would be repatriated to their homes in the first phase starting from today (Monday). A spokesman for the ERU, Adnan Khan, told The News that 720 buses and 52 trucks would carry the displaced families to Landakay, Barikot, Guratai and Kota areas of the troubled Swat Valley. According to the plan, the IDPs would be sent back in four phases. The IDPs living in camps, schools, private houses and other provinces would be sent back in the first, second, third and fourth phases, respectively. As many as 2,433 IDP families from Jalozai and 570 from Familio camps in Nowshera district would set out for Swat at 7:00 am, while 155 families from Salim Sugar Mills and Palosa camps in Charsadda would start off their journey to Swat in buses and trucks. The first phase would be completed in two days. The ERU said that the host families belonging to Barikot, Kota, Landakay and Guratai could also go back in their private vehicles after 1:00 pm. According to the ERU, the return plan for the in-camp IDPs has been changed. Arrangements have been made for the repatriation of those in-camp IDPs from Buner who might have stayed back for one reason or another and wished to return voluntarily, the ERU said. During the repatriation of the IDPs to Swat, extraordinary security measures would be put in place. The ERU said the security officials would be deployed throughout the way and military gunship helicopters would oversee the

convoys. Moreover, health unit would also accompany the convoys to meet any emergency. It said the curfew would remain in force on the way and no vehicle would be allowed to stop en route the valley. One-month foodstuff would be provided to the IDPs prior to their return. The displaced people were seen going back to their homes on foot on the main Mingora-Peshawar road on Sunday. Two women and a child were wounded by security forces when they fired at a car moving into Mingora city in Rahimabad, a town situated some three kilometres south of the city. They were identified as Muddasir, Abida and Zeenat Begum. It was learnt that curfew passes were being issued to government employees and farmers. APP adds: Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has said repatriation process of the internally displaced persons will start from Monday (today) and 125,000 displaced families have already been paid Rs 25,000 each through the UBL visa cards. Talking to BBC Radio, the minister said the internally displaced persons’ would return to their hometowns in phases and they would be provided all help in this regard. He said facilities like electricity, Sui gas, telephone and running water have been restored in the affected areas of Swat. Meanwhile, all the arrangements have been finalised by the government and other social-welfare organisations for the smooth and dignified return of 23,040 internally displaced families of Malakand Division. The return process of the IDPs is likely to complete within 14 days. The district administration of Mardan, Swabi, Charsadda and Nowshera and relief organisations have made special arrangements to facilitate the IDPs upon their return process. The Commissioner Mardan Division has imposed a complete ban on all kinds of leaves, including weekly offs, of the government servants in all the district government offices keeping in view the grave emergency situation and beginning of return process of the IDPs. All the district heads of government departments in Mardan and Swabi, along with their subordinate staff, would remain present on their station of duty and would not leave the station without prior permission of the Commissioner Mardan. Meanwhile, welcome banners have been installed on roads leading to Swat, Dir and Malakand Agency. The banners with slogans of ìLong live Pakistanî, ìWelcome our displaced brethrenî and ìSay no to militancyî have been fixed on various corners of the roads.

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