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High Commissioner mission to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran

Briefing notes

High Commissioner mission to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran

18 November 2005

High Commissioner António Guterres on Tuesday begins a six-day mission to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran. This will be his first mission as High Commissioner to the region, where he will get a first-hand look at UNHCR's largest ongoing repatriation and reintegration operation. Since 2002, more than 4.4 million Afghans have returned home from Pakistan and Iran - 3.5 million of them assisted by UNHCR.

The High Commissioner travels first to Kabul, where he has meetings scheduled Tuesday with several Afghan government officials and UNHCR staff to discuss the repatriation and reintegration operation. Mr. Guterres will also be interested in hearing about the longer-term prospects for Afghanistan's reconstruction, which is crucial for any successful return and reintegration programme. On Wednesday, he will travel to the eastern city of Jalalabad, where he will visit recent returnees, UNHCR staff and local officials.

Mr. Guterres arrives in Pakistan on Thursday for a two-day visit that will include an inspection of UNHCR's emergency operations for the victims of the devastating Oct. 8 earthquake, as well as meetings with several senior Pakistani government officials, donors and UN and NGO partners.

More than 3 million Afghan refugees remain outside their country, mainly in Pakistan and Iran, where Mr. Guterres is scheduled to arrive on Saturday. In both countries, the High Commissioner will discuss with government officials the future prospects for those Afghans who may wish to remain in main countries of asylum.

Mr. Guterres is scheduled to return to Geneva on Nov. 28.