Nearly 1,600 displaced Afghans return home this year with UN assistance

Nearly 1,600 displaced Afghans return home this year with UN assistance

Over 100 internally displaced Afghan families have recently returned to their homes in Balkh province thanks to the efforts of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which, along with Government authorities, has aided the resettlement of nearly 1,600 internally displaced persons in the war-torn nation this year.

A total of 341 internally displaced families, consisting of 1,588 persons, have returned home in 2007 with the assistance of UNHCR and the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, Nilab Mobarez, Information Officer with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told reporters in Kabul today.

In addition to those that returned to Balkh, internally displaced families have also returned to their homes in the provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Farah. An additional 470 families – some 2,560 individuals – are expected to return to their homes in the coming weeks.

Returning families receive free transportation to their final destination as well as relief supplies. Upon arriving home, they are provided with reintegration kits which include seeds and wheat flour from the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

UNHCR estimates there are over 129,000 people still displaced within Afghanistan, most living in camp-like situations and in need of assistance.

Since 2002, over half a million internally displaced persons have returned to their homes with the assistance of UNHCR, WFP and the Afghan government.

Meanwhile, the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan will be holding a workshop tomorrow in Kabul to address the rights and needs of mine victims and persons living with disabilities.

The widespread and indiscriminate use of mines during more than two decades of conflict has turned Afghanistan into one of the world’s most heavily contaminated countries, according to the Centre, which has been coordinating mine action activities, such as surveys, mine and battlefield clearance, mine risk education and victim assistance on behalf of the Government since 1989.

Mines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) kill or injure an average of two Afghans each day.