As momentum builds towards Afghanistan's elections, refugees turn out to register

3 October 2004

With Afghanistan just a week away from its historic, first-ever presidential elections, hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled the country to neighbouring Pakistan are signing up for the vote.

Men make up three quarters of the approximately 315,000 Afghan refugees who have registered since the process started on 1 October, Manoel de Almeida e Silva, a spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the press in Kabul today.

In a sign of remaining gender bias, he added that “a small number of polling stations did not open due to the fact that a few communities would not allow women to participate in the process.”

The spokesman said that in response, female community mobilizers are visiting encouraging women to come forward and register.

He also pointed out that the process was calm, unfolding “without any security incidents throughout these 620 locations in the Northwest Frontier Province in Balochistan and in Islamabad.”

Afghan refugees living in Iran do not need to register because they have already been identified through a separate exercise conducted last year.


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