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First Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Convoy leaves Herat for Badghis

Crisis in Afghanistan, 5 May 2008

UNHCR Kabul Press Information, 5 May 2008

Questions are attributable to Mohammad Nadir Farhad, UNHCR Public Information Section, Kabul, Afghanistan.

KABUL, 5 May (UNHCR) The first convoy of returning IDPs this year left Herat province for Bala Murghab district of Badghis province last week. More than 80 families (over 500 individuals) returned to their homes after fleeing from violence and conflict nine months ago. The return operation was jointly organised by the Department of Refugees and Repatriation, UNHCR, WFP and IOM.

Altogether some 400 families fled to Herat from Badghis following fighting in early 2007. Since that time they have been living in public buildings in Herat city. As other families from the same group have expressed the wish to go back to their homes, it is hoped that this first convoy of 2008 will encourage further returns over the coming months.

The returning families in addition to receiving free transportation up to their final destination received non-food items which include blankets, jerry cans, plastic tarpaulin and soap. They upon arrival will also receive wheat flour, lentils, cooking oil and salt from WFP.

Beginning this year, Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation supported by the international community prioritized finding durable solution for the currently displaced families across the country prioritizing the southern provinces ( Helmand, Kandahar) and Western (Herat). There is already a National IDP task force and two regional IDP Task forces composed of UNHCR and government officials, one in the west and one in the south established to look into durable solutions for the IDPs.

Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and UNHCR are in the process of completing a national profiling of displaced families throughout the country so that solutions can be addressed for different groups and to ensure most vulnerable will be protected. UNHCR will assist the Ministry with the development of a National Strategy to address IDP concerns aimed at finding more predictable solutions to their plight. This would be by and large a long-term strategy for IDPs.

There is an estimated 150,000 internally displaced people in Afghanistan, including some 111,000 in the southern provinces.

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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

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

Home Without Land

Land is hot property in mountainous Afghanistan, and the lack of it is a major reason Afghans in exile do not want to return.

Although landless returnees are eligible for the Afghan government's land allocation scheme, demand far outstrips supply. By the end of 2007, the authorities were developing 14 settlements countrywide. Nearly 300,000 returnee families had applied for land, out of which 61,000 had been selected and 3,400 families had actually moved into the settlements.

Desperate returnees sometimes have to camp in open areas or squat in abandoned buildings. Others occupy disputed land where aid agencies are not allowed to build permanent structures such as wells or schools.

One resilient community planted itself in a desert area called Tangi in eastern Afghanistan. With help from the Afghan private sector and the international community, water, homes, mosques and other facilities have sprouted – proof that the right investment and commitment can turn barren land into the good earth.

Posted on 31 January 2008

Home Without Land

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