50,000 Afghan refugees repatriated this year: UNHCR
KABUL (Pajhwok): The UN refugee agency has facilitated the return of over 50,000 registered Afghan refugees from Pakistan so far this year under the agency’s largest and longest running voluntary repatriation programme, a statement from the UNHCR said on Wednesday.
As part of its facilitated group return (FGR) initiative, UNHCR on Wednesday assisted a group of 550 registered Afghan refugees return to Herat from its voluntary repatriation centre in Baleli, Quetta, bringing the total number of refugees returned through Balochistan to 9000, so far, this year, which makes 10 per center of the total returns from Pakistan.
From Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this year, some 25,900 registered Afghan refugees opted to return; 11,300 from Punjab, 4,000 from Sindh and 2,800 from Azad Jammu Kashmir.
Of the total 50,433 registered refugees who returned with UNHCR assistance, the majority, 34 per cent returned to the northern region of Afghanistan, followed by the 31 per cent who went to the central regions while 19 per cent of the Afghan refugees returned to the eastern region.
In Quetta, Dinesh Lal Shrestha, Head of UNHCR, Balochistan, while bidding farewell to the members of the facilitated group return said: “Voluntary repatriation is a cornerstone of the Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).”
Shrestha hoped that with the formation of the National Unity Government and gradual political stability and better livelihood prospects in some parts of Afghanistan more refugees might opt to voluntarily repatriate to Afghanistan.
Forty-five-years old elder of the returning group to Herat, Ghulam Sakhi said, he and his group mutually agreed to go back to Afghanistan to take part in the rebuilding of their country.
Indrika Ratwatte UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan commended the continuous generosity of Pakistan for extending support to the millions of Afghan refugees in the country and highlighted the need for repatriation to be voluntary, in safety and dignity to ensure sustainable reintegration.
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