The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday said that more Afghan refugees are expected to be repatriated this year from Iran and Pakistan and called on the international community to take steps to help ease the process.
Since the start of the current year, tens of thousands of refugees have returned home, the UNHCR said.
Meanwhile, CEO Abdullah Abdullah called on host nations not to overlook the situation in Afghanistan when sending back refugees.
Abdullah made the remarks during a ceremony in Kabul to mark Word Refugee Day.
He called on host countries not force the Afghan refugees to leave.
“We are supporting the dignified and honorable return of the citizens, however we cannot ignore the situations in Afghanistan,” said Abdullah.
In addition, the minister of refugees and repatriations Sayed Hussain Alimi Balkhi said over 194,000 Afghan refugees have been repatriated in the past three months.
“The current situations in Afghanistan are not suitable for the expulsion of Afghan refugees,” said Balkhi.
“ 33,000 have returned mainly from Pakistan to Afghanistan, this number might increase as well , UNHCR assisted them with the cash grant which basically be spent on very basic things such as transport, food and shelter ,” said Fatiha Abdullah, head of UNHCR’s site office in Afghanistan.
Amid a surge in return refugees, the EU ambassador to Afghanistan Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin said the EU was committed to helping Afghan refugees.
The EU has announced $100 million USD in aid to facilitate Afghan refugees.
“The European Union member states continue to be very strong partner with Afghanistan in confronting the continued challenges here, let me mention that last year we initiated a program for almost a hundred million dollars,” said Mellbin.
Based on UNHCR statistics, Afghanistan has the second highest number of refugees outside the country - totaling over seven million - after Syria.
Afghan refugees live in about 79 countries around the world.