BANNU: The nearly half-a-million displaced tribesmen of North Waziristan have suffered immensely, as no proper arrangements were made for them at the time of their exodus.
Their facial expressions tell more than what they have experienced in the last two weeks. The story of each person is more tragic than another since these tribesmen embarked on a journey from their motherland to reach the adjacent town of Bannu, about 75km from Miranshah and 60km from Mirali town of North Waziristan. Nearly 100,000 came on foot as they could not pay for transportation. Fully exploiting the situation, the transporters almost tripled the fares. The journey was covered in 24 to 36 hours as every vehicle and family had to be registered at Saidgai checkpost before entering into Bannu. Many dehydrated on the way, especially the old and minor, while some died due to the sizzling heat.
After living in extremely filthy and lousy conditions for almost ten days, things have started somewhat improving since last Friday as authorities concerned have streamlined their efforts to facilitate and accommodate the people. Above 60 percent of the people have been registered. The registration process, according to officials, will be completed in the next 2-3 days. “About 36,000 families have migrated from the tribal region and 24,000 families have so far been registered,” said Umair Khan Kundi, assistant director of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), who has been assigned the task to verify the cards of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a registration and distribution centre set up in the Bannu Sports Complex.
Four registration centres have been opened for them in Bannu where homeless tribesmen, especially family heads, have to wait in long queues for hours for their turn. These registration and distribution centres are located at Bannu’s Sports Complex, Mamashkhel area, Dera Ismail Khan Road and Bakakhel Camp. At the first stage FATA (Federally administered tribal areas) Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) issue them card numbers on the basis of their National Identity Cards (NICs). In the second step, the numbers issued have to be verified by the officials of NADRA sitting inside Mobile Registration Vehicles (MRVs) having a satellite connectivity system.
Once cleared from there they will then have to wait to get a sum of Rs 12,000 from the assistant commissioner. At the final stage, the military distributes tents, ration and other relief goods, including even fodder for cattle. The ration and relief goods so far provided by the WFP, UNHCR and several other organisations, officials said, are sufficient for more than 100,000 families, officials said. Piles of wheat, flour, pulses, tea bags, energy biscuits, tents, mattresses, pillows, grocery and much more have been dumped at all distribution points. The military men on duty have been strictly instructed by their bosses to be extra polite with the tribesmen.
“This is a time to win hearts and minds of these people. Strict instructions have been issued to all army personnel on duty to stay polite and facilitate the affected people, especially elders, to any extent,” a senior military official told this scribe at Bannu Sports Complex. So far not a single man or woman of this strong breed of tribesman has been seen crying or complaining in these trying times which have been full of pain and misery for them. More interestingly, many do not even take off their woolen Chitrali caps, a trademark of these tribesmen, in the scorching heat of Bannu where temperature was almost 48-49 degrees Celsius on Sunday and Monday. Many have also brought solar panels with them, maybe aware of 18 hours of load shedding in Bannu.
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