Afghanistan: Ramadan and cooling temperatures mean fewer returns
The start of Ramadan and cooling temperatures across the Afghan region are being accompanied by a lower rate of returns. On Wednesday, the first day of Ramadan in Afghanistan and neighbouring Iran, some 700 Afghans left Iran under UNHCR's facilitated return initiative. Ramadan began on Thursday in Pakistan, when only some 200 people approached our Takhtabaig Centre registering for repatriation assistance.
Returns from Iran over the last week were highest last Sunday, when more than 1,500 returned, and have hovered around 900 throughout much of the week. The total number of refugee returns to Afghanistan so far this year stand at just below 1.8 million.
UNHCR's relocation of internally displaced Afghans (IDPs) in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar Province continues. More than 1,300 IDPs were shifted in the last week from encampments around the southern border town of Spin Boldak to Zhare Dasht. We've also started relocating some of Kandahar's IDPs to Zhare Dasht. So far, 625 IDPs have volunteered to go to Zhare Dasht from among the displaced persons living at Kandahar's Nahiya Duraie site.
There are now some 14,000 people at the temporary Zhare Dasht camp located west of Kandahar, where displaced Afghans affected by the persistent drought as well as people who fled insecurity in the north of the country receive assistance from UNHCR, WFP and other partner agencies.