As the Pakistani Army continues to defend the Swat Valley against Taliban insurgents, some of the millions of displaced residents are beginning to return home.
NPR's Julie McCarthy and Junaid Kahn report mixed feelings from those interviewed at the sweltering Jalozai camp. Some are excited to leave, looking forward to returning home with family and friends. The sister of Shaukat Ali, to modest to give her real name, is among those elated to settle back in Swat. She has "not spent a single contented day... Life here is nothing but helplessness."
But the majority of refugees aren't quite as elated to leave the relative security of the camp for the chaotic welcome they could to receive upon returning to their villages, reports the BBC. Earlier today I spoke with Holden Basch, Mercy Corps' Emergency Response leader in Pakistan, who reported that that in Buner, a district in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, police officers and government officials aren't back to work yet.
Others aren't leaving until they receive their $300 check, a government stipend promised to all camp residents. Akhtar Muhammad is among those waiting for the money. He told NPR reporters that "If the government hasn't given us the resources here where the situation is normal, how can I expect them to give it to us in the middle of that confusion back home?"
The future of these refugees is still unknown — the Taliban that are reportedly still in hiding in the Swat are unhappy with the families who fled the area. According to the BBC, security outside of the central city of Mingora is uncertain, with potential for guerrilla attacks by the Taliban. But for some, home is preferable to cramped quarters, extreme heat, and limited food at the refugee camp, and so those who are ready board buses for an uncertain home in Swat Valley.