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Afghans Continue To Return Home At Strong Rate

Afghans Continue To Return Home At Strong Rate – UN Refugee Agency

More than two years after Afghans began returning to their country on a large scale following decades of war and harsh rule, the pace of voluntary repatriation remains strong, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

For the first time, more refugees are returning from Iran than from Pakistan, UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters today in Geneva

So far this year at least 450,000 refugees have returned to Afghanistan – taking the total returns since early 2002 to almost 3 million. The months between May and August are generally the busiest for returns because schools are closed and the growing season is about to start.

Ms. Pagonis said more than 242,000 people have returned from Iran this year, compared to 210,000 from Pakistan. About 900,000 people have now returned from Iran, while at least 2 million have gone back from Pakistan.

All returning refugees are entitled to receive a cash grant when they arrive in Afghanistan to help them settle. To prevent “double-dipping,” the UNHCR is using computerized iris-recognition technology in refugee camps in Pakistan’s west to identify and register returnees. Today it dispatched the first mobile teams with the technology to encourage more returns.

On 1 September, the agency plans to stop all assistance to the camps in Pakistan’s west that have only emerged in the past two years and has offered extra incentives to encourage the estimated 190,000 residents to return home in advance.

Ms. Pagonis said UNHCR staff will hold talks tomorrow in Kabul with Afghan and Pakistani government officials to discuss repatriation issues. The agency and Islamabad are also discussing possible new sites for Afghan refugees who do not return by September.

© Scoop Media

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