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DHC's Pakistan visit ends; breakthrough agreement on registration of Afghans

Briefing notes

DHC's Pakistan visit ends; breakthrough agreement on registration of Afghans

21 April 2006

Deputy High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin today ended a six-day visit to Pakistan, where she witnessed the signing of a breakthrough agreement with the government on the registration of Afghan citizens in Pakistan.

Signed on Wednesday, the Memorandum of Understanding will pave the way for Afghans counted in the Pakistan government census of March 2005 to be registered at an individual level later this year. The data collected will allow both the Pakistani and Afghan governments to develop policies for voluntary repatriation and manage the future of this population. Registered Afghans will receive a Proof of Registration (PoR) card that will be de-registered upon their return to Afghanistan.

The $6-million exercise will be conducted by Pakistan's National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

Chamberlin, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, was making her first visit to the country since becoming UNHCR's deputy chief in 2004. She met with top government officials, including the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, as well as major donors and partner agencies in both the refugee and earthquake operations.

The Deputy High Commissioner travelled to Muzaffarabad, where she saw the devastation first hand. She toured two of Muzaffarabad's relief camps and assured quake survivors of UNHCR's continued support. She also discussed the ongoing challenges in the affected areas with quake survivors, and local government officials and aid workers in Muzaffarabad.

Six months on, with the emergency phase of the operation coming to an end and following the Pakistan authorities' announcement that relief camps would start closing in March, quake survivors have begun returning home. Over 80,000 camp dwellers have already gone back to rebuild their homes in the last month, including more than 25,000 from Muzaffarabad alone.

The Deputy High Commissioner also met officials in the North West Frontier Province and bade farewell to a group of Afghans returning to Afghanistan from Peshawar.