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Afghanistan: returns continue despite drop in temperatures

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: returns continue despite drop in temperatures

5 November 2002

Despite the rapidly cooling temperatures in Afghanistan, people continue to return home from neighbouring asylum countries. Since March this year we've seen more than 1.7 million people repatriate, although overall returns have substantially declined over the past month.

Just under 21,000 Afghans returned from Pakistan during October, compared to 64,600 in September. More than 28,000 people repatriated from Iran under our auspices in October, meaning that returns on the Iranian front outpaced those from Pakistan for the first time.

On Sunday, we saw 1,571 people leave Iran under the UNHCR / Afghan government joint programme, while seven refugees left Pakistan. In total, since March, more than 1.5 million people have returned from Pakistan.

Overall we've seen more than 246,000 Afghans return from Iran under the joint initiative together with another 90,000 people who opted to go back spontaneously for a total of more than 334,000 voluntary returns from Iran since April.

Since mid-August we've shifted more than 13,750 displaced Afghans from squalid sites near the Pakistan border to the temporary Zhare Dasht camp west of Kandahar. Afghans are also working to complete UNHCR shelter kits before winter arrives, and we believe that recipients of the shelter kits are on track to complete some 35,000 homes before the end of the year.

We continue to build up a winter stockpile of various emergency items should we need to rush aid to certain communities during the harsh winter months; currently we are moving 5,000 family tents into Afghanistan from warehouses in Pakistan. An estimated 550,000 people may be exposed to particular hardship this winter.