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Afghanistan: returns build again after Loya Jirga

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: returns build again after Loya Jirga

21 June 2002

After a slowdown in the past few weeks, the rate of returns of Afghan refugees into Afghanistan has resumed at high levels following the successful conclusion of the Loya Jirga, or Grand Council of Afghan elders, on Wednesday.

Yesterday (Thursday), the number of returns totalled around 12,000 - 10,700 from Pakistan and 1,600 from Iran - and it is likely to remain at that level. Last week's daily average was between 5,000 and 6,000. It is not entirely clear what caused the drop in the daily rate of returns - from 20 to 30 percent - in the run-up to the Loya Jirga council and during the meeting itself. One explanation could be a degree of tension and nervousness ahead of the meeting.

Since the assisted return programme for Afghanistan began on 1 March, 1,031,200 arrivals have been reported - 942,550 from Pakistan, 79,500 from Iran and 9,000 from Central Asia. We expect that the rate of returns from Iran in particular will increase with the improved political climate in Afghanistan and the conclusion of the school year in Iran.