High Commissioner arrives in Kabul, second stop of three-nation tour
KABUL, April 15 (UNHCR) - UN High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers flew into Kabul today on the second stop of a three-nation tour and proceeded to a refugee centre in the capital where Afghan returnees receive assistance.
Lubbers briefly met with returnees at the centre on the Jalalabad Road where returning Afghans, mostly arriving from Pakistan, receive cash assistance, medical treatment and mine awareness training.
He later had lunch with Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Enayatullah Nazari. During his four-day stay in Afghanistan, the High Commissioner will meet with President Hamid Karzai and other senior Afghan officials.
On Sunday, Lubbers will proceed to Pakistan on the last leg of his nine-day, three-nation mission.
In Tehran on Wednesday, Lubbers had discussions with Iran's Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref about the repatriation of Afghan refugees and related issues. In his talks with Iranian leaders, Lubbers covered the voluntary repatriation programme for Afghans and the difficulties, including security problems, that continue in some parts of Afghanistan.
During the course of 2004, he said, UNHCR is planning to help in the return of up to half a million Afghans from Iran. Over 400,000 have returned so far from Iran, with UNHCR assistance, since the beginning of 2002. Other issues such as the deportation of Afghans who do not have refugee status were also discussed, and UNHCR has welcomed the fact that it is now able to have access to deportees in order to ascertain that they do indeed not face any protection difficulties back home in Afghanistan.
Since the fall of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001, more 3 million Afghans have returned to their homes, mostly with help from the UN refugee agency. Of these, around 2.5 million have returned from Iran and Pakistan. In addition, some 800 million internally displaced people have also returned to their homes.