HRCP concerned over closure of Jallozai camp -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

HRCP concerned over closure of Jallozai camp

PESHAWAR: The Human Rights Commission for Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday urged the authorities to show restraint and respect for the refugee rights while closing down their camps.

ìWe have received several calls from refugees from the Jallozai camp, complaining the authorities concerned had threatened to raze their houses if they did not vacate the camp,” said HRCP Peshawar chapter chairman and noted human rights activist, Kamran Arif, in a press statement. The camp, located in the Northwest Frontier Province, is slated for closure by April 15.

The decision to close down the camp was taken by the tripartite commission in view of concerns that Jallozai had become a safe haven for insurgents and anti-state elements. The commission is composed of representatives of Afghanistan and Pakistan governments and the UN refugee agency United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

“We understand the security concerns, but any move to shut down the camp must not violate the refugeesí rights and international norms on the protection of refugees,” said the statement.

Jallozai, one of the biggest refugee camps, has been home to 110, 000 refugees who fled the conflict in Afghanistan. Some 25,000 refugees left the camp last year after the government announced to close it in August 2007. The camp residents got a temporary reprieve due to winter but refugees have been asked now to leave by April 15.

The authorities concerned have given a choice to the refugees to either repatriate to Afghanistan through the UN assisted repatriation programme or relocate to existing refugee camps in Dir and Chitral districts. The refugees, however, are reluctant to go back to Afghanistan due to security concerns.
Source: The News
Date:3/6/2008