10,000 Afghans to return homeland this year
ISLAMABAD (PAN): More than 10,000 Afghans in Pakistan will return to their homeland under the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)-assisted voluntary repatriation programme until the end of this year, officials said on Sunday.
But some Afghan refugees living in the country say they are unable to leave behind their businesses to their war-hit homeland.
About 10,000 Afghan refugees will return home by the end of this year, an UNHCR official, Mesri Khan, told Pajhwok Afghan News in Islamabad.
He said they had increased assistances for Afghans under the repatriation plan.
Earlier, a returnee was given $100, but the amount was doubled this time, he said.
Since 2002, he added, three million and 600,000 Afghans had so far returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan.
Another UNHCR official, who did not want to be named, said the Pakistani government wanted all Afghans left the country until 2012.
But a number of Afghan refugees said they would not return due to insecurity in home country and businesses in Pakistan.
Naek Mohammad, an Afghan, in Pakistan's Rawalpindi city, said that clashes were ongoing in his home province Baghlan and they were unable to leave Pakistan. He said he had no home in Baghlan and his children were studying in Pakistani schools.
Zarawar Khan, another Afghan, said that he had invested a huge amount in business in Pakistan. He said it would be impossible for him to leave Pakistan within the deadline set for their departure.
In Kabul, Pakistani and Afghan officials singed an agreement on Saturday in the presence of UNHCR officials over the repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan.
The agreement was singed among Pakistani refugee minister, his Afghan counterpart and UNCR representative.
Pakistani minister Shaukatullah Khan said on the occasion that Afghans were their brothers and they would not force them to leave the country against their will.
His government had launched a process of registering Afghans in Pakistan under a strategy. The gradual registration of Afghans would pave the ground for a gradual withdrawal of Afghans from Pakistan until 2012, he added.
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