UNHCR Eyes Modest Repatriation of Afghan Refugees from Pakistan
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan is expected to remain modest in 2018, local media reported on Friday.
The UNHCR said the trend of the return of Afghan refugees back to their home is declining this year as the number of the returning refugees was some 370,000 in 2016, whereas only 50,000 returned to their native lands in the first three quarters of 2017, Xinhua news agency reported.
The refugee agency did not cited the reason of this downward trend, however, local watchers believe that uncertain security and economic situation in Afghanistan is the main reason that Afghan refugees are not interested in going back to their homeland.
Apart from this, the UNHCR has cut the cash grant from 400 US dollars to 200 US dollars, to each returning Afghan refugee under a voluntary repatriation program, following a slash in donor agencies financial aid, which further dampened their spirits to return.
The UNHCR, however, assured that it will keep on supporting Pakistan to promote a peaceful coexistence between the locals and refugees.
The UN refugee agency said the protracted Afghan refugee situations in Iran and Pakistan require long-term solutions, with a focus on the creation of conditions conducive to voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan and support for refugee-hosting communities.
The agency added that it launched "Appeal 2018-2019" which lays out the financial resources that will be required for the agency's program to protect and improve the lives of 68 million people of concern.
The appeal presents the proposed budgets of 7.508 billion US dollars and 7.352 billion US dollars for 2018 and 2019 respectively.
UNHCR said in mid-2017, a delegation of 160 Afghan refugees travelled from Pakistan to Afghanistan to advocate for measures to be taken to ensure return is sustainable, including in relation to land, employment, shelter, health and education.
In 2018, data from the UNHCR's protection-based monitoring in Afghanistan will continue to help address protection issues in the country, support the transition between humanitarian assistance and development work, and inform government-led reintegration activities, it said.
According to local media, Pakistan hosts 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees.