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UNHCR suspends Afghan refugees’ repatriation for three months

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced this week that they will be suspending the repatriation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan for the next three months due to cold weather in Afghanistan.
According to a UNHCR statement, the repatriation process will be stopped from December 1, 2018 till February 28, 2019 due to severe cold weather in Afghanistan.
“All UNHCR centers in Pakistan and Afghanistan will remain closed during the winter,” the statement said, adding that the registered Afghan refugees will not be given financial compensation in case of return during the period and the operation will resume from March next year.
In a report published by the UNHCR in April 2018, Pakistan hosted the largest number of refugees in the world. According to the UNHCR report, as many as 1.45 million refugees belonged to Afghanistan.
Based on official statistics, nearly eight million Afghan refugees have returned home from various foreign countries in particular Pakistan and Iran during the past 17 years, but it is said that six million Afghans are still living as refugees in different countries of the world.
Meanwhile, officials for ministry of refugees and repatriates say UNHCR has suspended repatriation of Afghan refugees due to severe cold in Afghanistan.
Currently, nearly 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, while 1.2 million undocumented Afghans are living in Pakistan.
Afghan lawmakers in parliament are asking national unity government to adopt measures for honorable repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan. They said that presence of Afghan refugees in neighboring countries in particular Pakistan has resulted in increasing of insecurities in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has also used Afghan refugees as tool against Afghanistan government; therefore, it is time that national unity government should pave the way for honorable repatriation of Afghan refugees to home,” a lawmaker Mirdad Nijrabi said.
But an Afghan senator Mustafa Zahir believes that problem of Afghan refugees can be solved at a time when security is maintained in Afghanistan. He asked Afghanistan government to take necessary steps for resettlement of Afghan refugees inside the country as Islamabad has always made use of Afghan refugees as political tool to exert pressure on Afghanistan government.
On the other hand, an Afghan political expert by expressing concern over continued migration of Afghans to foreign countries and repatriation of Afghan refugees has said unfortunately Afghanistan government has no particular program for resettlement of those repatriating from neighboring countries in particular Pakistan.
It is worth mentioning that three decades of war and crisis have caused that a large number of Afghans leave their home country for foreign ones in particular Pakistan and Iran although most of Afghan refugees have returned back during the past 16 years, but unfortunately migration is still a bitter fate of Afghans.
Suraya Raiszada

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The Kabul Times.