Turkmen and other native Afghani refugees whose ancestral lands were claimed by others after they spent almost thirty years in Pakistan’s Jalozai camp have returned to Afghanistan nonetheless to new settlements.
Father-of-three Khodai Berdy showed me around the house he and his family took six months to build.
Like the others here, they came back to Afghanistan three or four years ago. They couldn’t return to their home village, not far away, because someone else had taken his land.
But Khodai’s situation has now eased. His was one of the families that received UNHCR help, and they built it with their own hands.
“At first when we came here, at least three people in this place got ill because of the heat, and died,” he says. “Now we’ve built this house. It’s very good. It’s resistant to water and the rays of the sun. We feel very good now – the only problem is water.”
Khodai is relieved not to be living in a tent any more, or having to stay with relatives.
One of his two main rooms is devoted to carpet-making – a trade he pursues alongside keeping a small shop.
It’s instructive to see long-standing Muslim refugee problems that the refugees are not unwilling to resolve.