News / Asia

UNHCR Completes 200,000th Home In Afghanistan

An Afghan woman sits amidst her children as they wait to be repatriated to Afghanistan from a United Nations Humanitarian Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) registration center in Peshawar, Pakistan, Jun 20, 2010 (file photo)
An Afghan woman sits amidst her children as they wait to be repatriated to Afghanistan from a United Nations Humanitarian Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) registration center in Peshawar, Pakistan, Jun 20, 2010 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

The U.N. refugee agency announced a milestone has been reached in its efforts to provide shelter for returnees and internally displaced people in Afghanistan. After eight years of work the UNHCR has completed the 200,000th home for a returnee family.

During the past eight years, 4.5 million Afghan refugees have returned home. Most had spent long years in exile, mainly in Pakistan and Iran. 

The mass return of this huge refugee population, believed to be the largest in the world, has strained the country's resources to the limit. In 2002, the U.N. refugee agency began a shelter program as part of its efforts to ease the return of the refugees.

UNHCR Spokesman Adrian Edwards said the program, which is an important element in the return of millions of refugees, has cost $250 million. While costly, he said the program has benefited 1.4 million people.

"The prospect of a secure home is regularly cited by returnees in Iran and Pakistan as one of their primary requirements before making a decision to return to Afghanistan," said Edwards. "This year alone we have helped more than 17,000 vulnerable returnee families with shelter assistance. Much of the actual work of construction is carried out by beneficiaries themselves."

Despite insecurity, Edwards said that Afghans continue returning every year in significant numbers from neighboring Pakistan and Iran. He said the biggest wave of returns was between 2002 and 2005. Nonetheless, he noted more than 112,000 people have returned to Afghanistan this year.

"The return of millions of Afghans has increased the estimated population of Afghanistan by some 20 percent. Returnees have contributed importantly in many economic sectors, bringing skills, know-how, and capital accumulated during their life in exile. But this huge population movement has also challenged the country's socio-economic absorption capacities, particularly on poor rural communities with limited resources."

Edwards said the UNHCR is focusing its shelter program on rural areas because of the significant numbers of families that have returned there from both Pakistan and Iran. 

The UNHCR said it believes in the future that refugees will be reluctant to return to Afghanistan unless security improves and there is continued economic and social development. 

UNHCR spokesman Edwards describes current humanitarian conditions as fragile and says the agency plans to continue its housing program next year.





You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid