Over 5.2 Million Afghan Refugees Return Home in 16 Years: UNHCR
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - More than 5.2 million Afghan refugees have returned to their militancy-plagued country over the past 16 years, said a statement of UN Refugee Agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Wednesday.
The statement released to mark the World Refugee Day which falls on June 20.
On Tuesday, Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Affairs Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi said that nearly 6 million Afghans are still living as refugees, with nearly 2.5 million in Pakistan and almost the same number in Iran, while the remaining in other countries, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the minister, around 332,000 Afghan refugees have returned home, with the majority of them from Iran and Pakistan since January this year.
However, UNHCR said in its statement that the "lack of access to services including education and health, adequate housing and land remain key critical challenges for returnees to rebuild their lives" in their homeland.
It also urges the Afghan government and the international community to continue to support the livelihood of the returnees, offer them economic opportunities, basic services and include them in political and social structures.