Covid-19 And Instability Hindered Afghan Refugees Return Home From Iran And Pakistan

The United Nations Refugee Agency has said that the returning of Afghan refugees from Iran and Pakistan has stopped. The reason behind this is the corona epidemic of the last 8-9 months, violence, insecurity, and future concerns. In 2002, when the Taliban collapsed in Afghanistan after US operations, refugees started returning from Iran and Pakistan. United Nations Refugee Spokesperson Babar Baloch told VOA that he had seen refugees returning to their homeland after decades having experienced a kind of exile.

“I was present at Border Point in Pakistan when I saw these people going. In 2002 and the following years the number was around 1 million. Even then, we had helped about 5 million Afghan refugees to return through UNHCR’s voluntary return program,” added Baloch. Baloch says that now this chain has stopped. Their return was banned in March due to Covid-19. He says that the recent attacks on civilians in Afghanistan, especially the hospitals and the recent attack on Kabul University, have served to discourage them in this regard. He says that the Afghans hope that the US-mediated peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government will be successful and end the decades-long conflict in the country.

“The international community has been continuously active in Afghanistan for the last two decades, and that is why there have been some positive changes in the infrastructure or economic sector, so there is still a need to pay attention here,” said Baloch.

However, even after the decline in the repatriation of refugees, if believed to the report of the International Organization for Refugees, more than 742,000 refugees have returned home this year, most of whom have returned from Iran. Also, according to current figures, there are still 2.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran.

19 / November 2020
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