Refugee returns to Afghanistan continue to climb, UN agency reports

27 December 2001

As the political situation in Afghanistan stabilizes with the advent of its Interim Administration, the number of refugees returning to the country continues to swell, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

As the political situation in Afghanistan stabilizes with the advent of its Interim Administration, the number of refugees returning to the country continues to swell, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

According to a UNHCR spokesman, on Wednesday, the number of returnees at a single border crossing in Pakistan exceeded 4,000. Tallying this month's returns via the Chaman crossing point, spokesperson Fatoumata Kaba told a press briefing in Islamabad that more than 35,000 Afghans had returned from that border area in December.

This comes in addition to returns from other areas in Pakistan, such as the North West Frontier Province, where Kaba said UNHCR staffers "recently counted a rate of return of over 2,000 a day at the Turkam border crossing leading to eastern Afghanistan."

Although the number of returns from Pakistan is on the upsurge, the largest return movement remains from Iran. "In order to monitor this spontaneous repatriation movement, UNHCR is planning to re-open its office in Islam Qala, in western Afghanistan near the Iranian border," said Kaba, noting that a UNHCR team would travel there on Sunday to prepare for the reopening.

 

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