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Return to Jalozai

It should not be there. In fact, part of me was hoping that it wasn't going to be there. But as our van turned on to the dust road, there it was: Jalozai refugee camp.

Last modified: 22 Oct 2009 20:59

It shouldn't be there. In fact, part of me is hoping that it isn't going to be there.

But, as our van turns into the dust road, there it is: Jalozai refugee camp.

Months after Pakistan declared victory over the Taliban in the Swat valley, the camp still stands.

It shouldn't, but it does.

It shouldn't because many displaced people have returned back to the Swat valley to rebuild their lives.

At its peak the camp housed more than 100,000 people.

Today the camp still houses nearly 4,000. These are the ones with nothing left to salvage and nothing left to build with. Their faces say it all: tired, stressed and covered in dust.

The camp remains open for them. The government of Pakistan says that nobody will be forced home and that they can stay as long as they want.

But now Pakistan's war with the Taliban has sparked another refugee crisis, just months after the country faced the biggest refugee crisis in its history as a result of the Swat valley operation.

This time the crisis is in South Waziristan. The Waziris will be hoping that they can go home soon, but that's what many here also thought.

I am hoping that this camp will close shortly, that they will be able to go home.

I don't wish to visit this camp again but, sadly, I fear it won't be my last trip.