Deep inside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on a barren patch of land in the Nowshera district, 12-year-old Rab Nawaz roams a relatively deserted Jalozai camp. Originally from the Khyber Agency, Nawaz has been living here since 2009, when the law and order situation deteriorated in his hometown.
Out in front of his torn tent on a warm sunny day, a disheveled Nawaz wanders when he should be sitting in a classroom, pursuing an education. He is not alone as hundreds of other children between the ages of five and 13 are being deprived of their basic right to education in the camp.
Three years ago, Nawaz was enrolled in the third grade in a primary school inside a tent. “In 2015 the schools were slowly and gradually closed down, depriving us of education,” aggrieved Nawaz.
“With no school in camp anymore we [the dislocated children] wander around all day,” he reveals, regretting what he has forgotten in the two years since he has been out of school.
Since the commencement of the repatriation process in March of 2015 of resettling internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their native homes, those left in the Jalozai camp have faced numerous issues, apart from education.
Women, and children like Nawaz, from Khyber, Bajaur and Mohmand of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) live in torn tents with a decreased food allowance and a lack of health facilities.
70-year-old Rehman Gul, who has been living in a tattered tent without food rations or any health facility, explains, “the welfare organisations have closed down their schools, health centres and also stopped providing food items.” Pushing his cart around the Jalozai camp to sell corn, Gul had been displaced from Bajaur in 2008. Since then he has seen supplies dwindle.
The lack of health facilities in the camp have compelled IDPs to take their ailing elderly, women and children to health centres located elsewhere in the Nowshera district. “I have no home in Bajaur Agency, how can I go back to my native village,” ponders Gul, wondering how much longer he has to sell corn to feed his children.
Oversight in the plan of action
As the families await their fate, organisations such as the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) have been looking for solutions.
However, Abdul Basit, director of rehabilitation and operations at PDMA, claims it is difficult to provide for families who have stayed beyond the termination of their legal status as 'internally displaced'.
“Provision of health, education, ration, tents and other facilities is impossible to maintain by non-government organisations for only 17 registered families in the camp,” asserts Basit, claiming there are many unregistered families who reside at Jalozai.
"The Jalozai camp is set to be decommissioned after the repatriation of the remaining families,” claims Basit, adding, “relevant authorities in Nowshera have been directed to accommodate children in schools, in addition to being provided health facilities in health centres.”
“We were awarding cash incentives of Rs25,000 per family in addition to Rs10,000 for transportation and a six-month ration upon their return,” claims Adil Zahoor, assistant director of operation and relief at FDMA, adding that they have also “carried out several reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in those areas.”
According to Zahoor, due to a rise in militancy and the subsequent military operation, the tribesmen had lost their homes and businesses. Through manual labour and opening up shops, like Gul's corn cart, they were able to feed their families, while females learned to stitch clothes.
In collaboration with local political administrators, media and other welfare organisations, FDMA conducted a survey of 3,782 homes. From the results they gauged that only 400 families had received cheques as compensation for their homes.
Whether families are waiting for rehabilitation or looking for alternatives, there exists a failure to provide the basic needs for displaced women and children.