Wednesday, 21 August 2019 01:47 GMT

Afghanistan- Returnees have their backs to the wall

(MENAFN - Afghanistan Times)  Lack of economic
opportunities and residential infrastructure, as well as continuous violence in
all over the country are considered major hurdles before the repatriation of
the migrants who fled to neighboring and other countries during war time. A
report released on Sunday reveals that the Afghan refugees who returned to
Afghanistan between 2014 and 2017 tend to be worse off financially and face
multiple economic difficulties compared to the refugees who are still staying
in Pakistan. The World Bank and UNHCR prepared a report titled 'Living
Conditions and Settlement Decisions of Recent Afghan Returnees', which is the
first ever joint report of the international bodies and shows that despite high
poverty and limited employment opportunities, majority of Afghans returned to
their home provinces, with Kabul and Nangarhar provinces together hosting a
third of all returnees. Afghans living in their provinces of origin were more
likely to be employed, benefitting from established social ties. Lower access
to education and healthcare services are other challenges faced by the
returnees and host communities, the report highlights. 'The living conditions
of Afghan returnees are extremely challenging and require deep and urgent
attention,' Henry Kerali, the World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan said
in the report. 'To understand the fundamental needs and challenges that the
Afghan repatriates face in their daily lives and to identify and agree on the
best ways of addressing those challenges, access to accurate data and analysis
is key. Our joint report with UNHCR helps increase coordination among partners
and improve the work in support of Afghan returnees,' he said. 'In 2019, we are
marking 40 years of Afghan displacement, and while several programs are in place
to assist returnees and facilitate their sustainable reintegration in
Afghanistan much remains to be done,' Caroline Van Buren, UNHCR's
Representative in Afghanistan said. 'The data and analysis in this report will
be crucial to UNHCR and our partners, including the Government of Afghanistan,
as we try to improve the way we support Afghan returnees,' he said. The report
assesses the existing challenges and identifies opportunities to further
enhance returnees' sustainable reintegration within Afghanistan's
socio-economic landscape. It recommends focusing on the voluntary and gradual
repatriation of Afghan refugees as a long-term solution to forced displacement
and encourages the Government of Afghanistan and its partners to put in place
measures to facilitate the return in safety and dignity. In recent years around
half a million Afghan nationals residing in Pakistan have been forced to return
when the law enforcing agencies in the host country launched a crackdown
against them. Pakistan made compulsory not only the UNHCR's Proof of
Registration for these people but even made it compulsory for them to have
passports with valid visas while crossing over Torkham and other border points
between the two countries. Except Torkham and Chaman, travelling between the
two countries through other border crossings was brought to a halt. Detentions,
arrests and imprisonment of scores of countrymen in Peshawar were also
considered a reason behind the forced return of the migrants. But upon landing
in homeland, these people were left with no option except going back to
Pakistan due to a myriad of problems, especially lack of employment and
economic opportunities and continuous violence and terror. Even some of these
people have sold away all of their belongings, inherited properties and other
valuables just for crossing the Durand Line and adjusting themselves in
Pakistan, no matter whatever the consequences might be. Many of them lack
documents and POR cards of the UNHCR, thus obliged to bribe the personnel of
law enforcing and secret agencies in Pakistan with their little to nothing
earnings there. In the wake of World Bank and UNHCR joint report, it is now
upon the shoulders of the government, politicians, parliamentarians, civil
society activists and other opinion makers to mull over ways and means for
addressing the unemployment and other economic hardships of these returnees, as
well as meet their residential needs. Global community has made tremendous
support to Afghans at hard times but still the situation in Afghanistan is
tense; therefore, it needs to focus its support on building up living
infrastructure and creation of employment opportunities for those refugees who
are returning to Afghanistan.


Afghanistan- Returnees have their backs to the wall


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