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Return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

Crisis in Afghanistan, 16 July 2007

UNHCR Kabul Press Information, 16 July 2007

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR at the UNAMA press briefing in Kabul, attributable to UN refugee agency spokesman M. Nadir Farhad, UNHCR Public Information Section, Kabul, Afghanistan.

KABUL, 16 July (UNHCR) A total of 160 internally displaced families consisting of 800 internally displaced persons, or IDPs, have been assisted to return home so far this year by the UN Refugee Agency and Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation. It has been agreed with the Government of Afghanistan that 2007 should be the last year of assisted return for internally displaced persons.

IDP families mainly from Zhare Dasht camp in Kandahar and Mukhtar camp in Helmand have been assisted to go back to their areas of origin in recent weeks. The operation resumed in June, and the latest convoy on 6 July brought more than 40 families (210 individuals) home to Badghis province in north-western Afghanistan.

In addition to receiving free transportation up to their final destination, the returning families also receive reintegration package (non-food) items which include blankets, jerry cans, plastic tarpaulin and soap and wheat flour from the World Food Programme (WFP).

An additional 200 IDP families (1,100 individuals) have already registered with UNHCR and are waiting to be assisted home. The refugee agency expects that many more families might wish to return in the coming weeks. July and August are usually the time of high IDP returns.

There are an estimated 111,000 internally displaced persons in 4 camps in southern Afghanistan, many of them Kuchis who were forced to give up their nomadic lifestyle due to drought and landlessness. There are also ethnic Pashtuns who fled the Northern provinces more than five years ago due to a fear harassment and severe drought, and stayed in Zhare Dasht, Maiwand and Panjwai camps in Kandahar, and Mukhtar camp in Helmand.

Depending on security conditions, UNHCR plans to assist some 2,500 families, or 15,000 individuals, to return to their places of origin by the end of the year. IDPs with continued protection concerns will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. UNHCR is therefore continuing its dialogue with the local government officials on the possibilities of local settlement for the remaining IDPs.

UNHCR hopes to continue till end of this year with the voluntary return movement from the south to the north. There are still specific areas that UNHCR cannot recommend for return at this time due to poor security. There is an estimated 130,000 internally displaced people in Afghanistan, including some 111,000 in the southern provinces.




UNHCR country pages

Afghanistan: Rebuilding a War-Torn Country

The cycle of life has started again in Afghanistan as returnees put their shoulders to the wheel to rebuild their war-torn country.

Return is only the first step on Afghanistan's long road to recovery. UNHCR is helping returnees settle back home with repatriation packages, shelter kits, mine-awareness training and vaccination against diseases. Slowly but surely, Afghans across the land are reuniting with loved ones, reconstructing homes, going back to school and resuming work. A new phase in their lives has begun.

Watch the process of return, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction unfold in Afghanistan through this gallery.

Afghanistan: Rebuilding a War-Torn Country

Rebuilding Lives in Afghanistan

With elections scheduled in October, 2004 is a crucial year for the future of Afghanistan, and Afghans are returning to their homeland in record numbers. In the first seven months of 2004 alone, more than half a million returned from exile. In all, more than 3.6 million Afghans have returned since UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme started in 2002.

The UN refugee agency and its partner organisations are working hard to help the returnees rebuild their lives in Afghanistan. Returnees receive a grant to cover basic needs, as well as access to medical facilities, immunisations and landmine awareness training.

UNHCR's housing programme provides tool kits and building supplies for families to build new homes where old ones have been destroyed. The agency also supports the rehabilitation of public buildings as well as programmes to rehabilitate the water supply, vocational training and cash-for-work projects.

Rebuilding Lives in Afghanistan

The Reality of Return in Afghanistan

Beyond the smiles of homecoming lie the harsh realities of return. With more than 5 million Afghans returning home since 2002, Afghanistan's absorption capacity is reaching saturation point.

Landmine awareness training at UNHCR's encashment centres – their first stop after returning from decades in exile – is a sombre reminder of the immense challenges facing this war-torn country. Many returnees and internally displaced Afghans are struggling to rebuild their lives. Some are squatting in tents in the capital, Kabul. Basic needs like shelter, land and safe drinking water are seldom met. Jobs are scarce, and long queues of men looking for work are a common sight in marketplaces.

Despite the obstacles, their spirit is strong. Returning Afghans – young and old, women and men – seem determined to do their bit for nation building, one brick at a time.

Posted on 31 January 2008

The Reality of Return in Afghanistan

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