Thousands of Pakistanis who fled to Afghanistan to escape fighting between the army and militants in the northwestern tribal areas began returning home Monday, two years after they were displaced, officials said.
The first batch of 200 tribal families from North Waziristan district, or some 2,000 people, were being greeted by officials at the Ghulam Khan border crossing, where a point for the returning tribal refugees had been established, local administrator Kamran Khan Afridi told AFP.
He said similar numbers would be arriving daily until January 26, with the families first accommodated in camps before being sent back to their villages and towns. Other political administration officials added that initially all the affectees will be shifted to Bakakhail’s Temporary Displaced Persons’ s camps in Bannu.
Pakistan’s army launched an operation in June 2014 to wipe out militant bases in northwestern tribal areas and bring an end to a bloody insurgency that has cost thousands of civilian lives since 2004.
More than two thousands families of North Waziristan migrated to the adjacent province of Afghanistan before the security forces operation Zarb-i-Azb against militants in the area.
Pakistani authorities say 67,000 homes in the tribal belt were completely destroyed, but there has been no independent assessment of the scale of the damage.
The country has asked the international community for $800 million to “rebuild and rehabilitate” the tribal areas.