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    Returnees want shelter, food

    LASHKARGAH (PAN): Afghan refugees who recently returned from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran to southern Helmand province are complaining about lack of shelter and food at their temporary arrangements.

    "We were faced with many problems in Pakistan, but when returned to our homeland, our problems multiplied," said Khan Muhammad, a refugee who had recently returned from Pakistan.

    He asked the Afghan government and aid agencies to provide them with emergency assistance, including shelter and food.

    Muhammad Aslam, whose family along with 11 other families arrived Helmand from Quetta city of Balochistan province of Pakistan on Tuesday, said they had been living in ruined houses in the neibouring country.

    He said he had his own farmland in the province, but was unable to cultivate crop on it due to security reasons.

    Noor Ahmad, another refugee, who returned from Iran with his family three months ago, lives in the Mukhtar camp. He said they had received food items for once over the past three months.

    Head of refugee and returnee department, Ghulam Farooq Noorzai, said about 620 families had arrived in the province from Pakistan and Iran during the past six months. He said his department had provided the families with shelters and food items.

    However, he added newly arrived 12 families from Pakistan were in dire need of urgent assistance.

    Besides refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran, residents of Marja district have also taken refuge in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, due an ongoing operation there, Noorzai said.