Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Afghanistan: Repatriation from Pakistan restarts after winter break

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: Repatriation from Pakistan restarts after winter break

28 February 2006

UNHCR is restarting its repatriation operation from Pakistan to Afghanistan tomorrow (Wednesday) after the usual winter break. Some 400,000 Afghans are expected to repatriate to Afghanistan this year, the last year of UNHCR-assisted returns under the current tripartite agreement with the two governments.

Some 450,000 Afghans repatriated under this arrangement last year, bringing to 2.74 million the total number of returnees from Pakistan since 2002. Another 1.4 million Afghans have returned from Iran over the same period. This huge movement of people represents our single largest return operation ever.

Returning Afghans receive $4 to $37 in travel grants - depending on the distance to their destination - and, regardless of age, $12 to assist with short-term needs upon arrival in Afghanistan.

The current tripartite agreement is entering its fourth year and will expire in December. We're now discussing with the two governments future return arrangements beyond 2006.

In a separate development, the Pakistan government has announced that three refugee camps - Katchagari in North West Frontier Province, and Girdi Jungle and Jungle Pir Alizai in Balochistan - will be closed by April 30 because of insecurity and camp consolidation. Afghans in the camps have been given a choice of voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan or relocation to an existing camp in Pakistan - Mohammad Kheil for those from the two Balochistan camps, and 10 camps in the North West Frontier Province for those from Katchagari camp. The government has said it will not allow anyone to remain in the closed camps.

A census conducted early last year counted 3.04 million Afghans living in Pakistan. With 450,000 repatriating last year, there are now some 2.6 million Afghans still in Pakistan.