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1,000 Afghans A Day Returning From Pakistan

Over 1,000 Afghans A Day Returning From Pakistan - UN Refugee Agency

Three weeks after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) resumed its voluntary repatriation programme from Pakistan to Afghanistan, the pace of returns has stepped up to more than 1,000 people a day.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul, UNHCR spokesman Mohammad Farhad said the agency helped more than 3,700 Afghans return in the first three days of this week. So far this year the agency has helped more than 13,000 Afghans from Pakistan and another 8,200 return from Iran.

UNHCR resumed its voluntary repatriation scheme on 3 March, three months after stopping because of the murder of one of its staff members, Bettina Goislard, in the Afghan city of Ghazni. The resumption followed security assurances from the Afghan and Pakistani governments and the introduction of extra security precautions by the agency.

Returning refugees can collect a small travel grant, food and a family kit from one of six UNHCR transit centres as they return to Afghanistan, Mr. Farhad said.

Later this week, the number of refugees assisted in returning from Iran since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001 is expected to top 400,000. UNHCR estimates another 270,000 people have gone back on their own.

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