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Afghan repatriation from Pakistan tops 50,000 for 2006

Briefing notes

Afghan repatriation from Pakistan tops 50,000 for 2006

16 May 2006

Today, the number of Afghan refugees returning home this year from Pakistan under UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme is set to pass the 50,000 mark. This brings to some 3 million the total number of Afghans returning from Pakistan since the programme started in 2002. More than 90 percent of returnees have repatriated with our assistance. The Afghanistan voluntary repatriation from Pakistan and Iran is UNHCR's largest return programme ever, with over 4.5 million Afghans - including 1.47 million from Iran - going home over the last four years.

In Pakistan today, some 1,300 Afghans will pass through UNHCR's Iris Validation Centres in Peshawar and Quetta - where their eyes are digitally scanned - before leaving for Afghanistan to ensure that returnee assistance is only paid once. Among this group will be returnee No. 50,000 for 2006.

Repatriating Afghans, verified by UNHCR, receive travel assistance plus a small grant to ease their initial reintegration in Afghanistan.

In 2006, UNHCR expects over half a million Afghans to return home - 400,000 from Pakistan and 125,000 from Iran. There are some 2.55 million Afghan refugees remaining in Pakistan and approximately 960,000 in Iran.