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Afghans To Return From Pakistan’s Troubled Border


UN Prepares Afghans To Return From Pakistan’s Troubled Border Area

The United Nations refugee agency is set to begin issuing repatriation documents to Afghans in refugee camps in a Pakistani border area, following a registration process that showed an overwhelming majority of the residents there wish to return to their homeland.

Teams of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had visited the camps in the troubled border region in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas last week after a Pakistani announcement that all the refugee camps in North Waziristan would close at the end of June.

"The mission to North Waziristan by the UNHCR teams went very smoothly and some 83 percent of all the families in the camps opted to repatriate, which is very encouraging," said Indrika Ratwatte, head of repatriation for the UNHCR in Pakistan.

Afghans in the camps were offered a choice of returning to Afghanistan under UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme or relocating to an existing site elsewhere in Pakistan that will be announced later this month by the Government.

The final count showed that 6,471 families were interviewed, with 5,343 choosing to repatriate and 1,128 deciding to relocate. Families average about six members each.

More than 2.4 million Afghan refugees have returned from Pakistan since the agency began a voluntary repatriation programme in 2002, following the fall of the Taliban regime, making it the largest repatriation operation in the world.

Under the programme, which begins tomorrow, each returning Afghan receives a cash grant for transport assistance ranging from $3 to $30 per person, depending on the destination. They are also provided with a cash grant of $12 for resettlement needs.


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