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Tajikistan: first repatriation from Turkmenistan since March

Briefing Notes, 31 October 2000

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 31 October 2000, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR today repatriated 71 Tajik refugees from Turkmenistan, bringing the total number of organised returns to 4,859 since the programme started in January 1998. The 71 returnees took a train Monday from Turkmenabad and Mary, 500 km and 250 km east of the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat, where they then boarded a plane this morning for Dushanbe in Tajikistan.

Today's repatriation from Turkmenistan was the first since the programme was suspended in March over problems of security. Most of the previous returnees went back to Tajikistan by train through Uzbekistan. Another 14,000 Tajik refugees have integrated in Turkmenistan, but individuals seek assistance from UNHCR to return from time to time. Even before the return programme began, UNHCR had organised the return of 500 Tajiks in 1996 and 1997.

Organised mass repatriation followed the signing of a peace accord in Tajikistan in June 1997, ending a civil conflict that began in 1992. Helping UNHCR implement the repatriation programme were the International Organisation for Migration and the National Red Crescent Society of Turkmenistan. UNHCR has expressed gratitude to the government of Turkmenistan for its co-operation in the programme and for facilitating the stay of the refugees.

More than 40,000 Tajiks who fled to neighbouring countries during the conflict have repatriated to Tajikistan since the peace accord, including an estimated 20,000 who went back on their own from Afghanistan. Of the total, UNHCR organised the return of 18,791, including 10,415 from Afghanistan, 3,012 from Kyrgyzstan, 13 from Uzbekistan and 492 from Kazakhstan.




UNHCR country pages


UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation of 38 Tanzanian refugees from Zanzibar who had been residing in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, for more than a decade. The group, comprising 12 families, was flown on two special UNHCR-chartered flights from Mogadishu to Zanzibar on July 6, 2012. From there, seven families were accompanied back to their home villages on Pemba Island, while five families opted to remain and restart their lives on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja. The heads of households were young men when they left Zanzibar in January 2001, fleeing riots and violence following the October 2000 elections there. They were among 2,000 refugees who fled from the Tanzanian island of Pemba. The remainder of the Tanzanian refugee community in Mogadishu, about 70 people, will wait and see how the situation unfolds for those who went back before making a final decision on their return.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

A Place to Call Home(Part 2): 1996 - 2003

This gallery highlights the history of UNHCR's efforts to help some of the world's most disenfranchised people to find a place called home, whether through repatriation, resettlement or local integration.

After decades of hospitality after World War II, as the global political climate changed and the number of people cared for by UNHCR swelled from around one million in 1951, to more than 27 million people in the mid-1990s, the welcome mat for refugees was largely withdrawn.

Voluntary repatriation has become both the preferred and only practical solution for today's refugees. In fact, the great majority of them choose to return to their former homes, though for those who cannot do so for various reasons, resettlement in countries like the United States and Australia, and local integration within regions where they first sought asylum, remain important options.

This gallery sees Rwandans returning home after the 1994 genocide; returnees to Kosovo receiving reintegration assistance; Guatemalans obtaining land titles in Mexico; and Afghans flocking home in 2003 after decades in exile.

A Place to Call Home(Part 2): 1996 - 2003

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

The UN refugee agency has resumed a voluntary repatriation programme for Angolan refugees living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Some 43,000 Angolans have said they want to go back home under a project that was suspended four years ago for various reasons. A first group of 252 Angolan civilians left the UNHCR transit centre in the western DRC town of Kimpese on November 4, 2011 They crossed the border a few hours later and were warmly welcomed by officials and locals in Mbanza Congo. In the first two weeks of the repatriation operation, more than 1,000 Angolan refugees returned home from the DRC provinces of Bas-Congo in the west and Katanga in the south. Out of some 113,000 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring countries, 80,000 are hosted by the DRC.

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo