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UN-backed report spotlights obstacles faced by Afghan returnees

UN-backed report spotlights obstacles faced by Afghan returnees

Pumping water
Many Afghans returning to their homeland face a number of major challenges, including a lack of employment, health care, education and housing, according to an assessment carried out with the support of the United Nations refugee agency.

The findings are contained in “Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan II,” the second report of its kind by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

The vast majority – over 85 per cent – of the more than 11,000 Afghans interviewed listed job opportunities, access to safe drinking water, improvement of health and education facilities, and housing as their top priorities for the future.

“Despite all efforts made by the Government, this report shows that Afghanistan needs more time to reach sustainable reintegration for those who have come home,” said Salvatore Lombardo, UNHCR’s representative in Afghanistan.

In particular, the study found chronic food shortages among those interviewed, and more than half said they did not have access to safe drinking water, while 60 per cent were living on less than $1 a day.

One third of respondents said their children were not attending school, with distance and security concerns cited for girls and the need to work for boys.

The lack of housing was not only a key obstacle for those choosing to return but also a main cause of dissatisfaction after their homecoming.

In response to the findings, the AIHRC is urging the Afghan Government to focus more on the situation of vulnerable groups, including returnees who have to rebuild their lives after spending years in exile.

“Full integration of returnees and a permanent peace closely and directly depend on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights,” stated AIHRC Chair Sima Samar.