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The number of Afghan refugees returning home rises steadily

The number of Afghan refugees returning home rises steadily

Around 5,000 Afghan refugees are returning home daily from Pakistan and Iran in the wake of the inauguration of the country's interim administration.
26 December 2001
A camp in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley for civilians who may soon be able to return home.

KABUL, Dec. 26 (UNHCR) - The number of Afghan refugees returning home from Pakistan and Iran continues to rise steadily.

Following the installation of a new interim administration in Kabul in late December, as many as 5,000 civilians have been crossing the borders daily, according to UNHCR officials.

These are the highest regular returns since conditions changed dramatically in Afghanistan and surrounding countries in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States and subsequent military campaign against Afghanistan's Taliban leadership and the Al Qaida network.

In the last two months an estimated 60,000 persons have gone home, though there is also a continuing small exodus of several hundred civilians into Pakistan daily.

The two-way traffic reflects the difficult and contrasting situation in Afghanistan where parts of the country are stable but where millions of mines remain a threat and roads, especially in the south and east, are insecure. Because of these conditions, UNHCR does not encourage the return of refugee families at this time.

Any major repatriation of the estimated 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran is likely to begin in the spring, when the political and military situation may be more stable and it will be easier to begin rebuilding Afghanistan's shattered infrastructure following a harsh winter.

Inside the country, the arrival and distribution of emergency supplies continued. The refugee agency gave stoves, blankets and other supplies to 500 displaced persons in the Paghaman district of the capital. It has already delivered similar packages to more than 3,000 families around the capital.

It will expand distributions to include Logar, Wardak and Ghazni provinces, bolstering the local economy and encouraging quick impact projects, mainly for women, by procuring many aid items in the immediate region.