PESHAWAR: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) on Monday kicked off repatriation of Afghan refugees and on the first day 571 individuals – comprising a total of 122 families – returned to their native country
“The process of repatriation of Afghans refugees started after almost four months. The process was halted in view of harsh weather,” said the UNHCR spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan.
The UNHCR had previously announced to give 400 dollars per person to support the refugees but on Monday the money was slashed down to 200 US dollars.
An official involved in the funding process told The Express Tribune that due to less contribution by donor countries the UNHCR was facing financial crunch. “That is why we are giving each individual only $200,” he said.
He denied reports that all Afghans would return to their country this year and said the office could not facilitate all 1.3 million Afghans, but hoped that half of them might return this year.
To a question, he said last year the UNHCR facilitated 370,000 individuals, which was a record.
“We succeeded in pulling off this feat thanks to the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (Safron) and the government that cooperated with us in this regard.
“It is pertinent to mention that Safron has an agreement with UNHCR that no Afghan or ‘refugee’ will return to his country by force. Willingness is the principle for repatriation” he added.
The official said 32% to 33% of the Afghan refugees were living in camps while the rest of the 68% to 70% were living in cities or villages.