Repatriating Afghan refugees: UN overhauls strategy to help Afghans return

Published: February 3, 2012
PM Gilani seeks international help to expedite the process. PHOTO: EPA/FILE

PM Gilani seeks international help to expedite the process. PHOTO: EPA/FILE

ISLAMABAD: As the UN refugee agency announced it would overhaul its strategy to help Afghan refugees return to their home country, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that Pakistan wanted their return with honour and called upon the international community for assistance.

Talking to UN High Commissioner for Afghan Refugees Antonio Guterres at the PM House, the prime minister said: “It seems like the international community has forgotten the Afghan refugees.”

Gilani emphasised that the return of the Afghan refugees was important because the crossing of borders by 30,000 to 40,000 Afghans on a daily basis has made it impossible to distinguish between a “tourist and a terrorist”.

The UN high commissioner said that they were reaching out to the international community to undertake heavy investment in 48 identified areas within Afghanistan which would encourage the Afghan refugees to return to their country on a permanent basis because it would provide them with attractive job opportunities.

UN overhauls Afghan refugee strategy

UNHCR head Guterres told AFP that 10 years after the US-led invasion and with 5.7 million refugees having returned since 2002, the United Nations no longer wants to restrict its aid to individuals who return.

Instead it will invest in communities, health and education in order to create more attractive conditions for return, and support host communities in Iran and Pakistan to preserve asylum space and ease the sharing of resources.

Afghans were not only leaving for neighbouring countries “but everywhere in the world” and in Europe “we are particularly worried with the rising number of unaccompanied minors”.

Appreciation for Pakistan

“At a time when many countries are closing their doors to those fleeing violence and persecution, the generosity of the people and the government of Pakistan towards Afghan refugees deserves greater recognition,” he said.

During his visit, Guterres also met with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and discussed the agreement reached in Dubai earlier this week among Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and UNHCR to pursue a regional strategy aimed at finding durable solutions to the Afghan refugee situation. afp

Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • John B
    Feb 3, 2012 - 1:04PM

    There is a strong desire in US among many families to adopt orphans from Afghan refugee camps,but insufficient information/confusing information were received regarding adoption procedures.

    There is no guarantee that the children will be raised in Islamic faith, as it is practically impossible, and the availability of Islamic family pool is limited. However, many families are looking to participate.

    Can anyone do the research and post a blog?


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Feb 3, 2012 - 1:38PM

    Its a problem emerged due to Afghan war in which refugees have been use by Islamic forces in Pakistan to convert them as Mujahideen to bring jehad in Afghsnistan . Now their return will be only possible if they will extend unconditional support to the existing govt. at Kabul .


  • Adnan
    Feb 4, 2012 - 12:09AM

    This is sad. Afghans share much with us Pakistanis. They are Muslims and we are duty bound to host them. Having said that, the movement of Afghans within Pakistan should be observed. Many problems arise because of their unrestricted and unobserved activities within Pakistan and in the end Pakistan takes the blame for it. May Allah bless Afghanistan and Pakistan with peace and prosperity.


  • Fatima
    Mar 3, 2012 - 7:29PM

    Of course they should go back. They are ethnic cleansing the native pakistan population. Afghans are also always involved in crime which continues to effect Pakistan. We have looked after them too much. Which other country has hosted that many refugees? This is Afghanistan’s problem not Pakistan’s. Im tired of it. Afghans need to stop having children if they cant look after them. Simple. The birth rate is higher then the repatriation its sickening. I am muslim but somewhere we need to draw the line.


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