‘Returning refugees provided assistance, basic health services’
KABUL (Pajhwok): The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday said Afghans constitute the world’s largest protracted refugee population, with millions having been displaced over three decades of conflict.
The UNHCR said in a statement 5.8 million of these refugees have shown extraordinary courage, resilience and resourcefulness by choosing to return home over the past decade, from Pakistan, Iran and many other countries. This year more than 40,000 Afghan refugees have voluntarily repatriated with UNHCR assistance.
In honour of World Refugee Day, Afghanistan and UNHCR along with other partners, honoured the strength, hope and determination of Afghan refugees returning home by welcoming them at the Kabul Encashment Centre.
Joined by the Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, Ms. Maya Ameratunga, UNHCR Representative in Afghanistan, visited the centre, where new returnees are provided initial assistance including basic health services, mine risk awareness education, referrals for various services, as well as a cash grant of about $ 200 per person, the statement added.
While welcoming the newly arrived returnees at the Encashment Centre, Mr. Balkhi said, “The Afghan Government is more than ever committed to the voluntary, safe and dignified return and sustainable reintegration of the remaining 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan.”
UNHCR Representative, Ms. Maya Ameratunga, noted, “In this crucial first year of the post-transition era in Afghanistan, it is critical that the international community remains engaged in Afghanistan. Now more than ever, we must step up support to the Afghan Government to create conditions in Afghanistan – peace, stability, shelter, jobs, education and basic services - that will encourage Afghan refugees to return home and re-establish new lives as citizens of their own country.”
The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, with UNHCR support, is taking an important initial step in the search for solutions to displacement by preparing a five-year strategic plan. This will encompass a comprehensive strategy for voluntary repatriation and reintegration of Afghan refugees, as well as action plans to assist IDPs and asylum seekers. Afghanistan, in collaboration with Pakistan and UNHCR, also plans an enhanced repatriation assistance package - a vital step to better assist Afghans returning home, the statement said.
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