Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, August 03, 2007

Afghan refugee agreement extended for another three years

Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) agreed on Thursday to the three-year extension of a program designed to facilitate the voluntary return of Afghan refugees, Reuters reported the same day.

Speaking from Islamabad, Afghan Minister for Refugees Mohammad Akbar Akbar called on Pakistan and Iran to show patience in the repatriation process. “Pakistan and Iran are hosting millions of Afghan refugees for three decades, so we hope that they show their patience,” Akbar said. “Also…the repatriation should be gradual and voluntary.”

Representing UNHCR, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Judy Cheng-Hopkins spoke of the need for a gradual influx. “After decades of war and neglect, infrastructure has gone down and there is a very little chance for people to make a livelihood,” Hopkins said.

Iran currently hosts an estimated 2 million Afghan refugees. In April, the Iranian government deported over 100,000 Afghan refugees.

Pakistan currently hosts some three million Afghan refugees. However, an additional three million have returned to Afghanistan since the institution of the program in 2002. Pakistan has closed one of its four refugee camps amid concerns that the Taliban militants was using the camp as a prime recruitment site, and has announced plans to close the others by the end of this year.

For the full article, click here.


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