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Pakistan: initial Afghan interviews completed next week

Briefing notes

Pakistan: initial Afghan interviews completed next week

21 August 2001

The joint teams composed of UNHCR and Pakistani government officials are interviewing increasing numbers of Afghans in Nasir Bagh and Jalozai settlements in advance of the screening for refugee status slated to begin the middle of next week.

To date, more than 13,800 heads of families have undergone initial interviews at the two sites near Peshawar, in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. The pre-screening operation began on 6 August.

UNHCR staff expect to complete the initial interviews of the some 130,000 Afghans in Nasir Bagh and Jalozai sites by the end of this week. The 55 teams will begin the actual screening interviews a week from tomorrow (next Wednesday).

On Monday, the largest single convoy of Afghans returning from settlements in Pakistan since the organized movements resumed on 3 July crossed back into Afghanistan. Forty-two trucks carrying 747 persons (162 families) from Nasir Bagh refugee settlement passed through the Khyber pass and then into Afghanistan last evening. Each family will receive Rup. 6,000 ($91), a plastic tarpaulin and 150 kgs of grain from the UN World Food Programme.

Of the more than 13,800 families undergoing the pre-screening so far, more than 3,150 families have said they would like to return home to Afghanistan. Yesterday, elders at the Nasir Bagh settlement decided to lead several blocks comprising 1,300 families back home to Afghanistan, and they should be repatriating in the coming weeks. UNHCR is looking at strengthening the number of staff involved in overseeing the voluntary repatriation operation, which since 3 July has seen nearly 12,000 Afghans repatriate from Pakistan.