UNHCR quashes Pak media reports of large-scale refugee movement

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United Nations, June 27 (ANI): The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees has refuted media claims in Pakistan that a large number of internal refugees uprooted by the anti-Taliban offensive were returning to their native places, by saying that there was no large-scale movement out of the makeshift camps.

The Nation quoted UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler as saying that most IDPs in NWFP have not visited their native place, while some of the people returned on a "go and see basis" to harvest crops, secure cattle or check on homes.

According to a UNHCR rapid survey conducted on 4,000 IDPs sheltering in a camp in Swabi District, some IDPs had gone back to help bring their family members, especially the elderly who were left behind because they could not move quickly enough, said Spindler.

Spindler added that the displaced were not willing to return unless 'improvements in security conditions' were made.

He noted that the destruction of houses and infrastructure, such as electricity supply, as well as concerns over education and the provision of food were also preventing returns.

In the meantime, an average of 1,800 IDPs a day continue to flow into the renowned Jalozai camp, in Nowshera district, which is being expanded as other camps in NWFP are full, said UNHCR.

The new arrivals include people who were previously staying with host families and those referred on from camps, which are full.

"In all the organised camps, we are continuing to improve conditions, building shade structures over tents to relieve the heat and privacy walls around groups of tents. We are also improving infrastructure like lighting and fencing," said Spindler.

The UNHCR is also making preparation for the upcoming Monsoon season by reinforcing drainage systems. So far, many people are protecting their family tent by building up low brick walls or draining canals. (ANI)

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