News: Returnees find home in Parwan
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Not too far from here is a government-established returnee village for Afghan refugees who have returned from either Iran or Pakistan and used to call Parwan and Panjshir provinces home. The village is called Barikop, also known as Beni Warsak.
Which country these returnees are coming back from depends upon many factors to include their ethnic background and job opportunities.
In Parwan, half the returnees came from Pakistan, and the other half came from Iran. The split in Panjshir is roughly 60 percent from Iran and 40 percent from Pakistan.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan began selling 10,000 parcels of land to returning families approximately four months ago. Eight thousand parcels have been sold to date, which includes 1,000 families from Panjshir.
The parcels of land purchased are about 1/10th of an acre and costs $120. Returning families then have to construct their own house.
There are only four working wells out of about 50 in Beni Warsak for the 500 families currently living there. Wells for potable water was the number one issue discussed during a meeting between Mr. Esmatullah Karimi, Director of Refugees and Repatriation for Parwan Province, Engineer Abdul Majid, DoRR for Panjshir, Mr. Haji Sulaiman, the deputy mayor of Panjshir, village elders and members of the Parwan Provincial Reconstruction Team, May 12.
"The lack of potable water and unemployment are two reasons there aren't more families living here," said one village elder. "They're waiting for facilities before they come."
Karimi said he has been asking the government for help for more than five years, and so far nothing has been done. That is why he came to the PRT.
It was important that the PRT see the village after members of the PRT met with the Parwan DoRR twice to discuss this issue.
"The returnees want a chance to live peaceful lives with their families," said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Don Kelling, Parwan PRT executive officer who went on the mission. "It's difficult to do that when you have to worry about basic amenities like potable drinking water."
The PRT plans to work with local government officials to help address the village elders' concerns that also include a road and transportation to Kabul so villagers can find employment.
"We're going to work with [U.S. Agency for International Development] and local government officials to develop a plan to meet the needs of the village," said Kelling, a Minelo, N.Y., native. "We're not going to be here forever, and it's important the government takes a lead in planning for and funding these villages."
According to a USAID report dated April 6, GIRoA estimated the total of internationally displaced population at more than 400,000 people as of early 2010. The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports the population of nearly 300,000 at the end of 2009.
Date Posted:05.16.2010 01:39
Location:BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF
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