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Afghanistan: variable grant system for returnees

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: variable grant system for returnees

28 May 2002

In Afghanistan, UNHCR is introducing a variable grant system for Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan to better reflect the complexity of the voluntary movements and to ensure that the returnees' travel costs are more appropriately reimbursed. From Wednesday, returnees from Pakistan will receive $10, $20, or $30 per person according to their final destination, and returnees from Karachi will receive an additional $8. The new travel grants mean that returnees from Pakistan will no longer receive a $100 cash grant per family, a system that encouraged families, particularly people travelling further inland, to split up to receive more travel money.

Since UNHCR and the Interim Authority began the assisted return programme on March 1, more than 760,000 Afghans have returned home, including some 695,000 from Pakistan, more than 56,000 from Iran and some 9,000 others from Tajikistan and other central Asian states.

We're encouraging donors to strongly support UNHCR's operations in Afghanistan and the surrounding states that are currently costing some $24 million a month - we've so far received $178 million out of the $271 million we require to assist returnees and care for refugees. Our partner agencies also require similar strong support from the donor community.

Due to food aid pipeline problems, WFP has been forced to temporarily cut rations to returnees in Kandahar, while rations to returnees in eastern Afghanistan have also been reduced. The people of Afghanistan truly depend upon a whole panoply of relief agencies providing everything from shelter to water, food, health care and other vital assistance. It's important that donors support the myriad relief operations underway in Afghanistan and refugee assistance to the surrounding states.