The Kabul Times.
Editorial

Voluntary repatriation of refugees

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The interminable war and violence in Afghanistan forced a large number of Afghan people to take refuge to foreign countries. Abandoning the country seemed the only panacea for the problems since the continued bloodshed took the rights and freedoms of the citizens.
On the other hand, the economic stagnation and mass unemployment during the civil war aggravated the challenges. Life turned difficult and people could hardly make the ends meet. But after the downfall of the Taliban regime, millions of Afghans returned backto their beloved home from Pakistan and Iran with the support of United NationsCommissioner for Refugees.
Here recently, the UNHCR announcedthat voluntary repatriation program for registered Afghan refugees resumed on March first after the winter break. The voluntary repatriation operation had been suspended for the winter period from 1 December 2018 until 28 February 2019. UNHCR will facilitate repatriation from the voluntary repatriation centers at Azakhel, Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baleli, Quetta in Baluchistan.
Pakistan continues to host 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees who are holding Proof of Registration (PoR) cards. Around 4.4 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan under the UNHCR-facilitated voluntary repatriation program since 2002. According to UNHCR, the Proof of Registration card allows Afghan refugees the right to temporary legal stay in Pakistan.
According to UNHCR representative in Pakistan, while voluntary repatriation was a preferred solution for the majority of Afghan refugees, it was needed to be well-informed, voluntary, safe and dignified.
As the year 2019 marks the 40 years of the Afghan displacement, UNHCR reiterated its call to the international community to help enhance Afghanistan’s absorption capacity and provide targeted development assistance in high return areas in Afghanistan for sustainable reintegration of returnees. It also called for support to Afghan refugees and their host communities, reaffirming UNHCR’s commitment to work with the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan on long-term solutions for 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been severely affected from security developments in Pakistan and the country’s operations against the insurgents. The neighboring country’s armed forces have time and again mistreated the innocent Afghan refugeesand received millions of dollar as aid from internationalorganization for hosting the refugees.
In order to encourage the refugees to return backto their home, the government of Afghanistan in collaboration with the international community and the UNHCR should provide various employment and accommodation alternatives such as temporary shelters, permanent resettlement and better employment. Unemployment would be the serious challenge, as the terrorist outfits would utilize the opportunity to achieve their vicious goals and destabilize the country.
Afghan government determined to protect rights of all Afghan citizens including refugees who are in search of shelter in other countries. Meanwhile the government is working closely with the UNHCR and the relevant countries to resettle Afghan refugees and improve the status of Afghan refugees around the world.

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The Kabul Times.