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Return Of Afghans In Troubled Northern Pakistan

UN Completes Registration For Return Of Afghans In Troubled Northern Pakistan

New York, Jul 1 2005

The United Nations refugee agency has completed registering some 27,000 Afghans wishing to return home from Pakistan following the closure of camps in troubled North Waziristan, where clashes between Pakistani military and rebel tribesman linked to fighting in their home country have made it to assist them.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that some 85 per cent of the camp population has chosen to return to Afghanistan rather than relocate elsewhere in Pakistan.

When the government of Pakistan announced a month ago that the North Waziristan camps would be closed at the end of June, there were an estimated 32,000 Afghans living in a dozen camps in the unruly agency bordering Afghanistan, part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

UNHCR supported the closing of the camps in North Waziristan because of security concerns.

The move reflects a programme of closures paralleling the fall in the Afghan population in Pakistan since the repatriation programme began in 2002. So far, UNHCR has assisted more than 2.4 million Afghans to return home, including 178,000 Afghans who have gone this year from Pakistan.

Two camps in Balochistan province will also close this year – Jungle Pir Alizai at the end of July and Girdi Jungle at the end of August. The government has also announced it intends to close the remaining camps in FATA as of August 30.

ENDS

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