Afghan returnees build homes with UN assistance

5 May 2009

Afghan returnees build homes with UN assistance

KABUL - Like many Afghan returnees, when Dunya Gul returned to Afghanistan in 2005, after years in exile, his main concern was - where to live?

He never thought he would afford to buy a plot of land and be able to build his own house. But he was among the lucky ones who received a plot distributed to returnees by the Department of Refugees and Repatriation of Nangarhar province and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) helped him build his own house.

“I received the plot but would not have been able to build my house without UNHCR’s assistance,” added Dunya Gul.

Dunya Gul lives now in his own house in the Shikh Misri returnee township in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

In 2008, nearly 4,000 families of returnees benefited from UNHCR shelter project in the eastern region alone. The majority of returnees - 2708 families, received shelter assistance in Nangarhar while 830 families and 415 families were supported in Laghman and Kunar provinces respectively.

Beside shelter, UNHCR, in cooperation with other aid agencies, has built around 100 tube wells to provide safe drinking water for Afghan returnees in the eastern region. UNHCR also deliver water in tankers to returnees in settlements where no permanent source of water is available.

Afghan returnees receive initial repatriation assistance upon arrival in the country which includes cash assistance, medical check up, vaccination, mine-awareness training and other assistance.

Over 170,000 individuals returned to the eastern region through Mohmandara Encashment Center in Nangarhar in 2008.

Over 5 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the majority of them from the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Iran.

By Shafiqullah Waak

Website: UNHCR