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"You Belong to One Community": The Call of Swati Refugees

I ain't any good writer, nor do I wish to "paint the pictures" of the unbearable pain our brothers and sisters of Swat - forced to flee as being torn out between the mortars and air-shelling of Pakistan Army and bullets and killings of Taliban from their homes - are subjected to. I simply don't have any imagination or quality to do so. But. I was moved to feel about, think about and do something, anything, about the Swati Refugees after I read the following two plain stories told by the victims themselves in plain language. I hope it affects and moves your hearts as well. I see hope.

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"Here are the stories of two internally displaced people who were forced to leave everything behind and start a new life full of uncertainties.

FARHAN, 23, STUDENT, NOW IN ISLAMABAD

"We left Mingora three days ago. The situation had become very dangerous. We were caught up in the brutalities between the Pakistani army and the Taleban.

We were trapped inside our homes for a week, while there was constant shelling. A mortar demolished a house just a few yards from our home.

There was no water, no power, everything was destroyed.

Swat is empty now and we don't want to go back ever

To add to that, the Taleban threatened to kill young people if they didn't join them in their so-called 'jihad'. There have been personal threats to our family too, as my father is an outspoken critic of the Taleban.

We had to leave. We left everything we had and went on foot to Malakand. There was no transport available. We were walking with thousands of people.

It was a difficult journey. There was no food or water, but most importantly we were going through a war zone and we were scared that we'd encounter Taleban militants.

Once in Malakand we hired a truck and drove to Islamabad. We are relatively safe here but I don't know for how long.

We left everything and now we are with empty hands trying to start our lives again.

We are trying to leave the country. Swat is empty now and we don't want to go back ever.


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MAJID, 24, STUDENT, NOW IN PESHAWAR

"We fled Mingora last Friday, together with much of the population of the city. Our life had become very difficult: we were trapped in curfews, electricity was cut, there was no water or food.

A makeshift school for girls in a refugee camp in Swabi
School lessons have resumed for these girls at a refugee camp in Swabi
In the early hours on Friday morning we were under attack from gunship helicopters. Later the army told us we had to leave Mingora.

We got up, put clothes on and rushed out of the door. We didn't have time to pack anything. We didn't even prepare food for the journey. We just shut the door and left.

People were running, everyone was so scared. We didn't know what was going to happen next.

I feel depressed. Swat has been brought back to the Stone Age. There's no life there any more

We decided to go to Peshawar. The first part of our journey was on foot, until we reached Malakand. The road was packed with people, thousands of them. My grandfather is old, he couldn't walk for long and needed regular breaks. And it was a hot day.

Then we hired a truck and drove to Peshawar. Many people stayed behind, as not everyone could afford to hire a vehicle.

I am staying at a university hostel with friends. My family is at some relatives' house. Many joined refugee camps, but those must be full, because I see lots of people lying on the roads, people for whom there's no accommodation or help.

The nearby park is full of people from Swat. There are Swat people all over the city, everyone with their own story.

Everyone is deeply disturbed by this experience. We left everything and our life here is uncertain.

I am thinking of leaving the country to study abroad. My dad says that he'll try to set up his own business and open a shop in Peshawar.

I feel depressed. Swat has been brought back to the Stone Age. Each and every individual has left. There's no life there any more. I am not hopeful that things will get better any time soon - they can't clear this mess up in a hundred years. "

Source.

4 did criticisms:

Navid said...

Subhanullah. The whole thing is so sad, depressing and anger-inducing. Muhammad, what organization(s) is on the ground right now in Pakistan, helping these displaced people?

Umer Tur said...

Dear Navid,

My father told me that our local 'Rotary' club, of whom he's a member, is holding a meeting in a few days to help out Swat's Refugees. It's a trusted organization.

I will today find out whom can we contact. But I'm wary of NGOs. They are known to be the vehicle of cultural imperialism. I hope to visit myself, with my friends, the refugee camps.

Nonetheless, I will inform you about reliable organizations, who are working honestly and effectively.

Thanks for reading.

Salman Latif said...

@Umer
That's a good decision.
I'm visiting the camps anytime soon. I wish the thing catches wind and at least our youth participates actively in toning down the pain of the displaced..

Kadri Luik said...

So sad. It's so disturbing when civilians have their lives destroyed over matters that they have no or little control over.

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