UN refugee agency reports upsurge in returns to Afghanistan

26 December 2001

Continuing an upward trend that began in November, the number of people returning to Afghanistan from neighbouring countries has jumped since the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today.

Continuing an upward trend that began in November, the number of people returning to Afghanistan from neighbouring countries has jumped since the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today.

"In southern Pakistan more persons are returning to Afghanistan after the Eid holidays," UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Kaba told the press in Islamabad. "Between Sunday and Tuesday, the number of those crossing from the Chaman area went up from 3,500 to 3,800 a day - or more than 10,000 individuals."

According to UNHCR, last month 6,900 persons crossed back into Afghanistan, most at the end of November. "For December alone, the figure is five times higher, with some 31,000 persons having returned as of 25 December," said Kaba.

Most of those returning to Afghanistan are reported to be urban refugees seeking jobs with the UN system, the Government, newly-opening embassies or aid agencies re-establishing operations in Kabul.

Aiming to ease conditions for displaced Afghans, UNHCR is distributing winter relief aid - cooking and heating stoves supplied with coal, warm clothing, blankets, jerrycans and a small cash grant - to 1,500 people living in districts around the capital city. So far this month, UNHCR has provided aid to some 3,000 families in and around Kabul, and plans are underway to assist thousands more.

 

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