Lack of funds could force UN refugee agency to cut operations in Afghanistan

10 June 2002

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that without fresh contributions, the agency will be forced to curtail its efforts to assist hundreds of thousands of Afghans returning to their country.

A UNHCR spokesman reported Sunday that the agency will run out of funding for its work in Afghanistan by the end of July, and will have to consider "some very hard choices, including possibly reducing or even halting assistance to future returnees."

Of the $271 million needed by the agency to continue its Afghanistan operations through the end of year, only $180 million has been received so far, according to spokesman Yusuf Hassan.

“With the number of returnees surpassing the 1.1 million mark this week, the current homeward movement of Afghans is already one of the biggest and swiftest voluntary repatriation programmes ever undertaken by UNHCR,” he said at a press briefing in Kabul.

Although a record number of Afghan refugees have made the journey back home so far, UNHCR said that they still constitute only about 25 per cent of the estimated 4 million Afghan refugees forced to flee their country by nearly a quarter century of conflict and instability.


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