Over 1 million Afghan returnees get help with homes
Since the repatriation to Afghanistan started in 2002, more than 1 million Afghan returnees from Pakistan and Iran have built homes with UNHCR assistance. Shelter is one of the most pressing needs of returning Afghans. UNHCR's shelter programme is designed to help the most vulnerable returned refugees and internally displaced people across Afghanistan.
In the last five years, we've worked with the government and partner agencies to distribute over 160,000 shelter units to help the most vulnerable returnees. Families selected for the initiative must build the walls of their homes before receiving timber for the roof and window and door frames. They also get cash ranging from US$50-100 to help them build their homes.
Despite security constraints in the south and south-eastern provinces, UNHCR provided more than 24,000 shelter units for nearly 170,000 Afghans there. Some 18,000 shelters countrywide were completed ahead of winter in 2006. We plan to provide some 10,000 shelter units for the neediest returnees in 2007.
In addition to providing initial reintegration assistance, we are also working with other UN agencies, developmental agencies and the Afghan government to ensure the long-term reintegration of returnees.
Since March 2002, over 3.7 million Afghan refugees have returned home with UNHCR assistance - including nearly 150,000 in 2006. The vast majority - over 3.6 million - are from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. At least 500,000 internally displaced Afghans have been assisted to return home in the last five years. An estimated 3.4 million Afghans remain in exile in Pakistan (2.46 million) and Iran (over 900,000).