International Organization for Immigration (IOM) and UNHCR officials have said that last year over 600,000 Afghans returned home voluntarily or deported from Iran and Pakistan.
They said with the above number, the number of Afghans who have returned from the two neighboring countries since 2001 reached to over 8 million Afghans.
The two organizations have also launched a joint report on returns to Afghanistan from Iran and Pakistan.
Reintegration in Afghan society is difficult for returnees, with the country still mired in conflict, with high levels of internal displacement, limited services and few jobs, IOM said.
According to the organization, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation coordinates the provision of humanitarian post-arrival and reintegration assistance, in close cooperation with UNHCR and IOM. UNHCR coordinates efforts to help registered refugees, while IOM coordinates assistance to undocumented returnees.
“This joint report reflects our shared commitment to assist the most vulnerable,” said IOM’s Chief of Mission in Afghanistan, Laurence Hart. “In spite of the inherent challenges of returning home, sometimes after decades abroad, IOM and UNHCR are working hand in hand to ensure sustainable solutions are provided to returnees.”
“We continue to assist tens of thousands of Afghans each year. As the report details, the true challenge now lies in a whole-of-community response that leaves no one behind,” UNHCR Country Representative, Fathiaa Abdallah said. “While we are working to address the impact of returns on host communities, we need to do more to ensure that development programs and policies are focused on successful reintegration.”
In February, the two organizations held a one-day strategic planning workshop in Kabul. They will shortly sign a Data Sharing Agreement and formalize a joint communications and outreach strategy.