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Agreement reached on $1.9b Afghan refugee plan

Agreement reached on $1.9b Afghan refugee plan

May 04, 2012 - 14:06

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon):  A new strategy for supporting repatriation, sustainable reintegration and assistance to countries hosting Afghan refugees was adopted at a two-day international conference in Geneva.

Implementation of the plan, which would cost an estimated $1.9 billion, won international support at the event that concluded on Thursday. Officials from Afghanistaninfo-icon, Pakistaninfo-icon, Iran, Switzerland and the UN attended the meeting.

The plan would initially focus on providing schools and jobs and meeting other basic needs for the 5.7 million Afghans who have returned to their homeland, the UN refugee agency said in a statement on its website.

High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres welcomed the global backing for the initiative and praised the drafting countries for showing the leadership to come together and float proposal for the solutions strategy.

The strategy aims at preserving asylum space for Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries over the coming three years and beyond, and supporting sustainable reintegration for the Afghans returning home.

A joint communiqué said the participants "welcomed and supported the Solutions Strategy as an integrated framework for multilateral cooperation and coordination."

Despite the return of more than 5.7 million Afghans to their homeland since 2002, nearly 2 million are still living in Pakistan and close to 1 million in Iran. In 2011, about 70,000 Afghan refugees returned home.

In Afghanistan, the focus was on supporting reintegration, the communiqué said, adding the participants had recognised the need to enhance the development and reintegration potential of high-return communities.

Afghan Minister of Refugees and Repatriation Jamaher Anwary said: "We have identified 48 sites in the country as priority sites where we can help the returning refugees with basic needs, such as healthinfo-icon and employment."

"The ability for refugees to return in safety and dignity and become productive citizens in their communities upon return is also integral to the stability and progress of Afghanistan," Guterres tolf the delegates.


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