Small groups of residents who fled Abyan province in southern Yemen while it was under al-Qaeda's control for over a year, are slowly returning home after the military dealt several crushing blows to the terrorist organisation.
Other internally displaced persons from Abyan, however, are not yet ready to return unless security and basic services are restored in the province, officials and residents told Al-Shorfa.
"I will not return to Jaar unless security and basic services like water and electricity are restored," Abdullah Nasser said. "How can I return when basic living services are unavailable?"
"I went back and my home and my belongings were not damaged. There are only a few houses that have been damaged in air raids, but the government facilities suffered the most damage because they were used by al-Qaeda," said Nasser, a 45-year-old teacher.
Nasser said Yemen's popular committees are currently maintaining security in the area, and many of his displaced friends and colleagues are waiting for security forces to secure the region before they return.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are 157,000 displaced residents from Abyan.
The Yemeni government approved the creation of a fund to rebuild Abyan, allocating 10 billion riyals ($47 million) to start the project
During an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday (June 19th), government officials discussed what the province needs in order for displaced residents to return home. Mohammed al-Shadadi, the deputy speaker of parliament, and Jamal al-Aqel, Abyan's governor, attended the session, along with other local officials.
"The government instructed the service ministries to restore basic services and normalise the situation," Ahmed al-Rahwi, Abyan's deputy governor and one of the session's participants, told Al-Shorfa. "The reconstruction fund will compensate citizens for damaged homes and property as a result of the armed conflict."
The government also deducted a premium from all government employees for one day only to help support reconstruction. Yemen's partners in fighting terrorism, including donor states, charity organisations, and the private sector are all going to support the fund, al-Rahwi said.
He said teams were assigned to clear landmines from the area after the army announced it regained control of Zinjibar and Jaar. While Kud and Zinjibar are still closed until the demining teams finish their operations, some residents returned to Jaar and neighbouring areas, he said.
The government provided equipment to security forces in Abyan so they can carry out their tasks efficiently and confront any terrorist or criminal activity, al-Rahwi said.
Al-Aqel led a field inspection in Zinjibar with officials from several ministries on June 19th. They observed the damage to government facilities and residences that occurred as a result of fighting between the military and al-Qaeda-affiliate Ansar al-Sharia.
Al-Aqel called for the swift reconstruction of damaged homes, payment of compensation to residents, and rehabilitation of Abyan's basic infrastructure, including electricity and water services, communication lines and roads.
Nasser Mansari, chairman of the local council in Khanfar Directorate and a member of Abyan's local council, told Al-Shorfa work is underway to restore these services.
"A generator was installed on Wednesday to pump water to residents in Jaar and work is under way to restore electricity," he said.
Mansari called on humanitarian organisations to support the government's reconstruction efforts, noting that several agencies such as the Red Cross and the Ataa Yemen Foundation already expressed their willingness to help.