News

    Strategy Lays Groundwork for Repatriation of Afghan Refugees

    Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter (L) gestures next to U.N. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres for refugees at the opening of a two-day International conference on the Afghan refugee situation on May 2, 2012 in Geneva.
    Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter (L) gestures next to U.N. High Commissioner Antonio Guterres for refugees at the opening of a two-day International conference on the Afghan refugee situation on May 2, 2012 in Geneva.
    Lisa Schlein

    An international conference in Geneva has agreed on a plan for the voluntary repatriation and reintegration of millions of Afghan refugees, of whom many have been living in exile for more than three decades.  The multi-billion-dollar strategy lays out measures for creating favorable conditions for their return.

    During the past 10 years, more than 5.7 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan.  This is nearly one quarter of the Afghan population.  In addition, almost two million refugees are still living in neighboring Pakistan and another one million in Iran, making this one of the largest and longest-lasting refugee situations in the world.

    Afghanistan Solution Strategy

    • Drawn up by Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR
    • Aimed at preserving asylum space for Afghan refugees in neighboring countries
    • Supports the sustainable reintegration of returning Afghans
    • 5.7 million Afghans have returned home since 2002
    • About 3 million Afghan refugees remain in Iran and Pakistan


    Source: UNHCR

    Participants at a U.N.-sponsored conference recognized the enormous economic and social costs shouldered by the host countries and, in the adoption of a strategic plan, they reaffirm the importance of the international community to share the burden and to assist the host communities.

    Pakistan Minister of States and Frontier Regions Engineer Shaukat Ullah says he is pleased with the outcome of the conference.  But, to make the strategy work, he says the final settlement that emerges as international forces draw down from Afghanistan in 2014 must include the Afghan refugee issue.

    "The only solution to the Afghan refugee situation is their early and swift voluntary repatriation into their homeland," said Ullah.  "The government of Pakistan's management and repatriation strategy envisions their return by December, 2012.  The friends of Afghan people should redouble their effort and their early voluntary repatriation."  

    The Pakistani minister says the international community should step forward and share some of this burden by offering resettlement opportunities in more prosperous countries.

    The Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva agrees with his Pakistani colleague.  Despite the economic and social drain on his country, he says Iran has generously provided skills training to hundreds of thousands of Afghan students, job opportunities to about 300,000 Afghan refugees, and has spent millions of dollars in medical care every year.

    U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says it is remarkable that the three countries - Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran - were able to come together and present a joint solution to the Afghan refugee problem.  

    Although he believes the agreement will have a positive impact, he says the strategy does not replace a political solution.

    "I think that it is absolutely essential that the international community works together with the national stakeholders and the regional stakeholders in order to make sure that an inclusive political solution is found for peace and security to be established in Afghanistan in a way that strongly enhances the return movement...  It is also obvious that a concerted effort, an investment inside Afghanistan and 48 areas have been selected as area of high potential for return for that investment will also be able to enhance this movement," said Guterres.

    Conference participants agreed to recognize the importance of providing livelihoods, education, shelter, and basic services to entice Afghan refugees to return home and to stay home.  

    They say, if they succeed in this, the efforts also should help to reduce the pressure on Afghans to leave the country in search of employment opportunities.  The conference estimates it will cost nearly $2 billion to implement the plan for the next three years.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora