Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

Afghanistan: repatriation from Pakistan passes 2 million mark

Briefing notes

Afghanistan: repatriation from Pakistan passes 2 million mark

7 May 2004

In the last week, the repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan passed the 2 million mark, while we breached 700,000 returns from Iran since these facilitated repatriation operations began in early 2002. When we include the return of more than 440,000 displaced Afghans to their home areas by UNHCR, IOM and other partner agencies, more than 3.1 million people have returned home with international assistance since early 2002.

The UNHCR/Afghan-government facilitated repatriation programme has achieved these impressive totals despite enormous obstacles. Many Afghans have obviously decided that improving conditions in many parts of their homeland make repatriation feasible. While some parts of the country are still facing security problems, others are reporting improved security and expanding economic opportunities.

But this repatriation of more than 3 million people is also testimony to the enthusiasm of the Afghans and their belief in the stability of the government of President Hamid Karzai, as well as in initiatives underway by UNHCR, the UN's Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and many other humanitarian and development partners. The upcoming elections also present an important opportunity for Afghans to participate in their country's future.

Under the repatriation programme from neighbouring countries, UNHCR gives refugees wishing to return a grant to cover the costs of transportation - ranging from $3 to $30 per person, plus $8 apiece in place of food aid and other items that were provided to returning refugees in previous years.

In another development, UNHCR this week opened seven Dispute Settlement Committees in various cities throughout Iran to help facilitate the return of refugees from Iran who may be facing outstanding legal disputes. The committees rely on mediation and arbitration to resolve such issues as non-payment of salary, or refusal to return rental deposit. UNHCR hopes this will help many Afghans who want to return immediately, but cannot go because of money still owed to them in Iran.