More Pakistan families returning to Waziristan: UN

An estimated 364,028 people are thought to have fled South Waziristan.

Islamabad: Dozens of Pakistani families have returned to South Waziristan with UN and government help to rebuild their lives after major fighting against the Taliban, a UN official said on Sunday.

Thirty-five families were returned on Sunday with 48 families already having resettled on Saturday under a repatriation process due continue until next year, the official said.

"Thirty-five families left today from northwestern city of Tank to return home," UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman Ariane Rummery told a news agency.

Rummery said the UNHCR was helping people returning home with transport, tents and other non-food and household items, adding that the government was giving each family 25,000 Pakistani rupees (292 dollars).

The process is expected to see people from 8,000 registered families go to more than 10 villages in South Waziristan, part of the tribal areas that Washington has branded a global headquarters of al Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.

"There is strong desire among people living in camps to return home," Rummery added.

The Pakistani military carried out a sweeping offensive last year into parts of South Waziristan in order to disable the headquarters of the country`s main Taliban faction, following an increase in militant bomb attacks in late 2009.

Many of the Taliban commanders and their footsoldiers are believed to have fled into the neighbouring district of North Waziristan, where Pakistan has so far resisted American pressure for a similar offensive, and into Orakzai.

An estimated 364,028 people are thought to have fled South Waziristan for districts under government control that neighbour Pakistan`s tribal belt.

Bureau Report

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