1 million Afghans in Pakistan register in UN-backed operation to help repatriation
“After a slow start during Ramadan, the pace of registration is increasing exponentially,” UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesman Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Kabul, the Afghan capital today of the operation, which provides official identification cards.
The 10-week exercise, the largest such operation the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has ever been involved in, began 15 October and runs until 31 December, with the UN in both a supporting and monitoring role in the process, which involves collecting bio-data, fingerprints and digital photographs.
“Registration facilitates the management of a population in any country, be it refugees or non-refugees,” UNHCR said. “It will help all the stakeholders to facilitate repatriation next year, regulate and manage the temporarily stay of Afghans for the duration of their cards’ validity and provide information to help plan the future of this population.
“It also helps the Government of Afghanistan to identify needs in major areas of return and design developmental programmes to make sure returns of Afghans are sustainable,” the agency added.
The European Commission, United States and United Kingdom have contributed towards the $6 million registration exercise that is provided free for eligible Afghans.
Even after more than 2.8 million Afghans returned home over the last five years Pakistan still hosts one of the largest groups of refugees in the world; there are 1 million Afghans living in camps and more than 1.4 million living in urban areas.
Since 2002 over 1.5 million Afghans have also returned home from Iran, 850,000 with UNHCR's assistance. More than 1 million others are still estimated to be living there.