KUNDUZ -- More than 1,500 families displaced from Qarqin and Khamab districts of Jawzjan Province have returned home after Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) liberated the districts from the Taliban, according to local authorities.
The ANDSF cleared Khamab in an operation on April 19 and Qarqin on April 29 after two years under Taliban control.
The displaced families had been forced to flee to Aqcha, Khwaja Doko, Sheberghan city and its adjacent villages to escape fighting and Taliban harassment, said Abdul Qader Malia, acting governor of Jawzjan Province.
"These districts were under Taliban control for the last two years," he said. "After their recapture, all families have fortunately returned to their homes."
"Families who were forced to leave their homes by war and insecurity received necessary assistance from the local government including cash, food and kitchen utensils," he said.
"I lived for two years in a rental house in Sheberghan out of fear of the Taliban," said Abdul Basit Muhammadi, 44, a resident of Khamab District.
"One of my sons is serving in the National Police, while my brother is serving in the National Army," he said. "Realising that the Taliban were going to kill me and my family, I had to escape from my home at night."
Muhammadi was happy to be back in his home.
After clearing the Taliban from Khamab and Qarqin districts, the local administration has started the process of reconstruction and development, Malia said.
He listed several projects that will be implemented in these districts "in the near future", including "11 projects [to build] retaining walls along the Amu riverbank, two health clinics, building 36km of road and construction of two water supply projects".
"We could not implement these projects earlier since the enemy was controlling the area, but now we can and we are implementing these projects in a better way to solve residents' problems," he said.
In addition to the deployment of 400 border police, the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army forces, authorities have approved the formation of a 116-member Local Army force that will deploy soon in these districts, according to Malia.
"We reassure our people that their security is maintained and that they should go about their business in a peaceful environment," he said.
"Residents of all districts, especially in vulnerable ones such as Khamab, Qarqin, Mordian, Mangjak, Khwaja Doko and others, are struggling with economic difficulties and lack of employment opportunities," said Babur Ishchi, chairman of the Jawzjan provincial council.
"Fortunately, after troops cleared these districts, there is hope of resolving the residents' problems," he said.
"There are no roads, schools or clinics in most villages of Khamab District, and the residents still rely on primitive equipment," said Abdul Samad Jawzjani, a tribal elder in Jawzjan.
He called on the Taliban to seize this opportunity for peace and to stop forcing civilians to flee their homes.