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Xinhua, June 20, 2011

Conflicts, poverty suspend Afghan refugees’ return to home

Living in a mud house in Barik Ab area, a suburban of Kabul, the bearded Yar complained that the returned refugees used to live in the community have no electricity and potable water

By Farid Behboud, Zhang Jianhua

Continued Taliban-led insurgency, insecurity incidents, high rate of unemployment and poverty have been main obstacle to delay the return of over six million Afghan refugees from neighboring states.

"Almost all Afghan refugees living in neighboring country of Iran prefer to return home country, but they were forced to stay abroad due to continued war, insecurity and high rate of unemployment in Afghanistan," Allah Yar, 60, who returned from Iran nearly three years ago, told Xinhua.

Afghan refugees getting ready to return home on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan
Afghan refugees getting ready to return home on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan on Thursday, April 30, 2009. Continued Taliban-led insurgency, insecurity incidents, high rate of unemployment and poverty have been main obstacle to delay the return of over six million Afghan refugees from neighboring states.

He made this comment on Sunday, a day before of the World Refugee Day which falls on June 20.

Living in a mud house in Barik Ab area, a suburban of Kabul, the bearded Yar complained that the returned refugees used to live in the community have no electricity and potable water.

"I have been living in this shelter provided by government and foreign aid agencies but potable water, electricity, health services are not available and the living conditions are getting worse and worse," Yar said.

"If the situation continues to deteriorate, I have no choice but to move again to Iran," Yar, the father of six, said.

Running a private bakery, Yar complained that the income is not enough to feed the family properly.

More than six million Afghans are still living as refugees abroad with vast majority of them in the immediate neighboring Iran and Pakistan, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation Islamudin Jurhat said to Xinhua on Sunday.

According to Juraht, a total of 5.6 million Afghan refugees have returned home since the collapse of Taliban regime in late 2001. However, continued insecurity has forced many to move again.

"Then as now, the major cause of displacement is war. Prolonged conflicts and instability in places such as Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan, and unfolding crises in North Africa and the Middle East, are among the contributors to the current world population of almost 44 million forcibly displaced people," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on World Refugee Day.

"For UNHCR, the operational environment is one in which the protection of civilians remains a major issue, but deep poverty continues as the biggest threat to life and progress. With Afghanistan's capacity to absorb returnees stretched to its limits, achieving sustainable return and reintegration is becoming ever more difficult," the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in its official website.

Even though, Afghans are still suffering of endemic war and poverty, and the living condition is pitiful, many returnees have to stay in their war-ravaged homeland.

"Even living here in Afghanistan is very difficult, I prefer to stay in my country than to be a refugee in other countries," an Afghan girl Nasiba who returned from Iran eight years ago said.

Category: Refugees/IDPs, Healthcare/Environment - Views: 6687