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528,000 Afghan refugees return so far this year: Balkhi

528,000 Afghan refugees return so far this year: Balkhi

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Dec 18, 2017 - 19:48

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Refugee and Repatriation Minister Said Hussain Alemi Balkhi on Tuesday said more than 528,000 Afghan refugees returned from Pakistaninfo-icon and Iran so far this year.

Out of 500,000 internally displaced last year, over 100,000 have returned back to their places of origin within the country, Balkhi told an event marking the International Migrants Day in Kabul. 

The event was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) and the International Organization for Migrationinfo-icon (IOM).

“For Afghanistaninfo-icon, migration is an opportunity. Five hundred thousand people returned to their homeland this year. We’re here to help and we’re ready for 2018,” said Toby Lanzer, acting head of the United Nations in Afghanistan at the Migrants Day in Kabul. 

The event, held in the Government’s Media and Information Center (GMIC) brought together representatives from the government of Afghanistan, UN agencies, international organizations, humanitarian actors, embassies, parliamentarians, Afghan civil societyinfo-icon and members of the migrant communities.

Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah said “our joint work with the EU was fruitful and the number of the returnees has declined.”

“We are also grateful to the governments of Iran and Pakistan for providing needful facilities for Afghan returning migrants in their countries,” the CEO said. 

Undocumented Afghans, who are not formally registered as refugees in their host countries, face unique challenges both abroad and when they return home. Since the beginning of the year, over 500,000 undocumented Afghans have returned from Pakistan and Iran until December 9. 

Migrants face many challenges along their migration route. IOM’s Missing Migrants Project reports more than 176,000 migrants safely reached Europe in 2017, over 3,000 migrants died on the way. This figure compares to more than 387,000 arrivals in Europe in 2016, and over 5,000 deaths. 

“It is a bitter sweet day remembering those who suffered or died, and those who have been successful,” mentioned IOM Special Envoy and Chief of Mission Laurence Hart. 

Returns of undocumented Afghans have decreased by more than 60 percent compared to last year, from 248,000 in 2016 to 95,000 until December 9, 2017.

Returns of undocumented Afghans from Iran have decreased by eight percent compared to last year, from 443,000 in 2016 to 407,000 until Dec 9, 2017.

Since the beginning of the year, IOM has provided more than 104,000 undocumented Afghans with post-arrival emergency assistance at its Transit Centers in the four border crossing points with Iran and Pakistan. 

pr/ma

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