Afghan returnees benefit from shelter assistance
KABUL - Almost 4,000 Afghan returnees have benefited from the shelter assistance of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in the eastern province of Nangarhar in 2008. "I am now living in my own house thanks to the shelter assistance of UNHCR,” says Dunya Gul who returned to Afghanistan in 2005.
As part of UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation assistance programme, nearly 175.000 Afghan refugees living in Pakistan have returned to the eastern provinces of the country.
Since 2002 more than one million Afghan returnees have returned to the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar and Nuristan.
“I am very thankful to UNHCR for its reintegration activities and for building water pumps, clinics and school in our town,” adds Dunya Gul.
More than five million Afghan refugees have returned since the voluntary return operation was launched in 2002. In 2008, a total of 280,000 Afghans returned and mostly settled in the eastern provinces – particularly Nangarhar.
In April UNHCR will resume its return operation which was suspended during the winter months.
UNHCR estimates around 220,000 people may return to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran in 2009.
By Shafiqullah Waak, UNAMA