Returns to Afghanistan
On Monday 27 March, some 450 Afghans left Peshawar (North West Frontier Province) for the village of Ambar Khana in Batikot district, Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan marking the start of this year's repatriation season during which up to 200,000 Afghans could go home from Pakistan and Iran.
A second group of 350 is expected to follow on 29 March and the first repatriation from Karachi to Kandahar is planned for next week.
The returnees receive a repatriation grant of US$100 per family, 300 kilogrammes of wheat and plastic sheeting.
UNHCR's offices in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, will monitor the authorities' abidance by their declarations that returnees will not suffer discrimination on account of religion, ethnic origin and gender; that they will have access to property and land, and that they will be exempt from conscription for at least one year.
In 1999, more than 92,000 Afghan refugees returned home from Pakistan and more than 77,000 from Iran, but there are still 2.6 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran, making Afghans the single largest refugee group in the world.