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Challenges of Afghan Refugee Repatriation (2002-2005): Success or Failure?

Byline: Nasreen Ghufran


Afghanistan, which produced the largest caseload of refugees during the early 1 980s, also witnessed one of the largest repatriation movements in the year 2002 with more than 1.8 million refugees and some 600,000 IDPs returning voluntarily to re-establish their lives. Afghanistan's Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR), UNHCR and its partners facilitated the voluntary return operation and provided initial reintegration support. The Presidential Decree on the Dignified Return of Refugees, issued in June 2002, by the government of Afghanistan serves as the main legal framework, to ensure that the basic rights of returnees are recognized and that the voluntary character of return is respected.2 Steps toward compliance with this Decree and support to the Afghan Government to promote protection through monitoring of returnees' basic rights were initiated in accordance with the provisions of the Bonn Agreement in December 2001.

Keywords: Afghanistan, refugees, repatriation, basic rights of returnees

Any repatriation movement has its accomplishments and obstacles. As repatriation itself is one of the durable solutions to refugee problem therefore, whenever it takes place, it is an achievement in itself. However, it is a complicated process and has to go through several obstacles before returnees begin a normal life. Repatriation is highlighted to be the most desirable solution for refugees, but going back to one's own country is not easy.

There seems to be a wide gap between reality and rhetoric, ideally repatriation is fully

voluntary, fully informed and takes place only once conditions that give rise to the

1 This paper was originally prepared for the conference on The Challenge of Rebuilding Afghanistan 2005 organized by Program on Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution; Department of International Relations, University of Karachi and Hanss Seidel Foundation, Islamabad.

refugees flight no longer exist. In reality things are much harder and complicated for refugees returning home.3When a repatriation operation takes place refugees recover their citizenship and the inherent rights and responsibilities attached to that status. This recovering of the relation with the country of origin does not take place automatically but gradually. To accurately observe a repatriation process and how that recovering occur it is necessary to distinguish two levels of analysis, legal and social. The legal recognition of returnees as citizens once they return is automatic.4 At the social level the situation is not as automatic as crossing borders but it also implies the recovery of the sense of trust sufficiently to be part of the social and political dynamics that build the society in the country of origin. Because it is a human process, the re-establishment of relationships at a societal level is gradual by nature.

This 'sense of going back' includes different notions such as going back to a country, going to a community, going back to a family, going to a land.

The concrete content of this going back is thus shaped by external and internal factors present in every returnee as an individual and as a group. Some of these many factors are: the characteristics of the conflict and its impact outside as well as inside the country, the length of refuge, the personal and collective motivations in the forced displacement movement, the international interests and politics present in the process and the socio-economic situation of the populations inside and outside the borders. These factors shape the expectations and motivations that refugees have in relation to their return. They are normally developed during the time of exile and they are reflected in the attitudes, beliefs, behavior, expectations and frustrations that returnees, individually and socially, display upon return.

Issues related to personal security and protections in connection with repatriation are crucial factors in the decision of the refugees to repatriate. In addition, it is important to know that they will have housing upon arrival. The possibility of a safe income is another important consideration. Many of the refugees continue to have problems supporting themselves and their 'families' long time after they return. It is equally important to be able to return to a network of family and/or friends. This can make the transition easier. The refugees who consider returning are also concerned about how they will be received by their neighbors and family, about their children's transition from the school system of the host country to that of their home country, as well as travel arrangements, public support systems and other rights they may be entitled to when returning. The need for information varies from person to person, depending upon where the refugees want to re-settle geographically.5

The issue of 'voluntariness' is central to refugee repatriation. Refugees should not be compelled to return to their countries of origin, nor should they be prevented from returning. Voluntary repatriation means that, after reviewing all available information about conditions in their country of origin, refugees decide freely to return. People usually decide to return when there is no longer any risk of persecution in their country of origin. Others may decide to return for political or family reasons even though the situation in their country of origin has not changed.6


The refugee flow began as a trickle in April 1978, reaching a peak during the first half of 1981 when an estimated 4,700 crossed the Pakistan border daily. The flow ebbed and surged in response to Soviet offenses, so that by the fall of 1989, the number of Afghan refugees was estimated at 3.2 million in Pakistan, 2.2 million in Iran,7 and several hundred thousands resettled in scattered communities throughout the world. Afghans represented the largest single concentration of refugees in the world on whom an estimated $1 million a day was expended in 1988.

Movement along the Pak-Afghan and Iran-Afghan border has been there even before the Communist coup in Afghanistan. It should not be confused with the crossing of refugees into Pakistan and Iran. Both Afghans and Pakistanis have moved back and forth across the Durand Line; they have lived with their family on one side and pursued employment on the other. These people were equally at home on both sides.8 This movement across the Pak-Afghan boundary never made headlines, as it was something normal and causing no interruption in the lives on both sides of the border. However, the position of the Afghan nationals who crossed the border after 1978 has been different. As it was a massive influx, unlike the prior movements, policy makers and officials in Pakistan approached it as refugee issue. As the Afghans had fled their country due to political persecution and the Soviet invasion, the movement could no longer be considered as natural movement across the border.

There has been a substantial amount of trade and migration back and forth across the border between Afghanistan and Iran. Traditionally, impoverished Afghanistan was a source of migrant labour for Iran, especially during oil-boom years of the early 1970s.It is estimated that there were anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million Afghan workers residing in Iran at the time of the communist coup in April 1978. In 1989, the government of Islamic Republic of Iran estimated around 2.35million Afghans within its borders. Most were workingmen, unlike in Pakistan.9

Refugees who arrived in Pakistan were mostly ethnic Pushtuns while in Iran received mostly ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. The refugees who left during the 1980s were almost exclusively from the rural areas. This was particularly so on the Pakistan side. Those leaving for Iran included people from Heart city as well as from rural areas in the west and north. 10 In addition, a relatively small population of professionals left Kabul because of purges within the ranks of Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and because of the ongoing state of conflict. Most Afghans in Iran are well integrated into the local economy; they provide casual labor for the agricultural and building construction sectors, and semi-skilled labor for certain trades like roofing an leather tanning. Most major urban areas have thriving Afghan settlements, with their own small businesses, markets mosques and schools. Afghans filled much of the labor deficit mobilized for military service.11

Neither Pakistan nor Iran accorded Afghans the status of refugees on the basis of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. Although Iran was signatory to both documents, it chose to give Afghans the status of muhajirin (people who seek exile for religious reasons. They were thereby denied rights under the Convention and left dependent on whatever benefits might be given to them on the basis of hospitality. To date, Pakistan has signed neither the Convention nor its Protocol, being unwilling to find itself committed to the local integration of those qualifying as refugees under international law. Like Iran it has always regarded its hospitality to Afghans as a religious and humanitarian duty, and not as a legal obligation.12 In comparison with many asylum countries, Pakistan has been very liberal as it has allowed Afghan refugees unhindered freedom of movement within the country, where they can work, conduct business and attend school.

These were the Cold War years; the international refugee regime was such that most of the refugees around the world were encouraged to stay in the host countries. Repatriation was not given priority at that time; reintegration and resettlement were considered the most durable solutions for refugees during that period. This concept prevailed in the West, but it slowly began to cross the frontiers of the West and Third World countries hosting refugees began to adopt similar policies. Pakistan and Iran were no exceptions. Afghan refugees were not only welcomed in these countries but also in the West.

Until the mid 1980's, Iran received modest international assistance for supporting refugees. This reflected the deep mistrust between foreign institutions and Tehran during the early years of the Islamic revolution. At that time, Tehran insisted on self- reliance and having control over its internal affairs, and its also held misgivings about the impartiality of international organizations.13 Unlike Iran,14 the international assistance which began to pour into Pakistan for the Afghan refugees and mujahideen helped General Zia-ul-Haq to stabilize his military regime, neutralize his domestic opponents and assume a central position in regional power politics. What motivated Washington to support the Afghan resistance was its strategic interest in preventing the Soviet Union from further expanding its political and military influence to the South- West Asian region.15

Because of cultural and religious affinities, Afghans have generally been welcomed in Iran, much as they have been in Pakistan. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and the establishment of the U.S-Pakistan strategic alliance in the 1 980s, Iran's policies vis-a-vis its Afghan refugee population were largely a factor of its opposition to super power encroachment, as well as its aspirations to be the vanguard of Islamic revolution in the region. 16

In spite of Tehran's longstanding patronage of Afghan refugees, their continuing presence in Iran has produced some serious domestic tensions. In rural and semi-rural areas, in particular, Afghans and their livestock have had a fairly significant environmental and economic impact, placing considerable strain on rural infrastructure, pastures and rangelands, water and food supplies, and health and education services. This has led to rising negative sentiments on the part of the general public, which increasingly blames the Afghans for rising prices, increased crime, and social problems such as drug smuggling and prostitution. In 1991, Tehran still perceived an interest in maintaining its liberal refugee policies, although reports indicated that the government had tightened its restrictions on movement within the country, and many unregistered refugees were detained and deported. 17

The Afghan crisis created serious security, economic and social problems for Pakistan too. The wide-scale encampment of the refugees on Pakistan soil made it easy for the mujahideen to camp among them. This raised fears on Pakistan's part that the Soviets may retaliate mujahideen raids in Afghanistan, and, in doing so, violate Pakistan's border with impunity. The threat to domestic security could not be ruled out either given the precarious nature of Pakistan's political system, which already had separatist elements.

In Afghanistan, the monumental change of Soviet withdrawal, however, did not bring peace. The civil war continued, the mujahideen continued their jihad against Dr. Najibullah. Therefore, the expected repatriation after the Soviet withdrawal did not take place.

Afghan Repatriation in 1990s

The decade of 1990s was known as the 'decade of repatriation,' as repatriation became a major concern of the host countries, encouraging refugees to return to their homeland in safety and with dignity. The policies of both Iran and Pakistan started changing too. They were now having second thoughts about the extent of their obligations towards muhajirin, the great majority of whom they now saw as economic migrants or "economic refugees."18

In July 1990 UNHCR started an assisted repatriation program in Pakistan later extended to Iran. The long awaited fall of the Najibullah regime in 1992 triggered a surge in repatriation. His stepping down and the transfer of power to a variety of mujahideen led coalitions in the provincial centres of Afghanistan led to an enormous movement of people into Afghanistan. The resistance parties now themselves in power had to pull the refugees back home as Pakistan pushed them back. Pakistan found the field open to implement its own agenda. General Zia, in an interview given in July 1988 to the noted American scholar, Selig Herison, had asserted: "We have earned the right to have a very friendly regime there. We took risks as a frontline state, and we won't permit it to be like it was before with Indian and Soviet influence there and claim on our territory."19 Assisted repatriation from Pakistan continued throughout the

1990s, but at a much- reduced level from that of 1992. More than 300,000 individuals were estimated to have returned in 1993. However, more than 200.000 repatriated unassisted, so the number of assisted returns hovered around the 100,000 mark.20

Meanwhile, the Iranian government signed a three-year repatriation agreement with government of Afghanistan and with the UNHCR in 1992, and actively encouraged return, issued temporary registration cards for those who wished to repatriate. By the end of 1993, about 600,000 returned from Iran, over 300,000 of them under the assisted repatriation programme.21

While massive returns took place in the year 1992; however, these returns did not solve the problem for either Pakistan or Iran, as both countries received new influxes. Civil war continued unabated. Repatriation continued at a brisk pace in 1993, but leveled off during the rest of 1 990s, due to the instability in the country. The flow backs to Pakistan and Iran reflected the volatile situation in the country and the vulnerability of those refugees who had already decided to go back to Afghanistan. Security had not taken roots, neighboring countries still meddled in the affairs of the war torn country, therefore, repatriation had to fail and reverse, depending on the fluctuating situation. The UNHCR had adopted the encashment policy to motivate the refugees to repatriate, but the flawed policy failed in the face of undertaking a gigantic task of making millions return.

The 'encashment strategy' provided monetary incentives to Afghans for return. When Afghans first came to Pakistan, they were issued ration cards, which entitled them to certain benefits as refugees. These ration cards were to be handed over, at the time of repatriation in order to receive the repatriation grant. UNHCR overlooked a major flaw in its encashment strategy adopted during the 1992 repatriation programme. UNHCR could not monitor the actual return through the encashed ration cards. The UNHCR staff had the statistics for the number of rations cards encashed, but the equation with returnees could not be ascertained with surety.

Moreover, UNHCR did not have enough funds to carry out the encashment program either. Returnees felt the crunch, as they were already facing economic problems. The home country was not in a position to immediately reach out and help them reintegrate.

The fresh arrivals to Pakistan and Iran in post 1992 period were an indicator, that the two countries still faced a grave refugee problem and had to adopt new strategies to repatriate the refugees. The refugees who arrived in 1990s were largely educated urban families fleeing because the economy had broken down and, education for girls was not available and that provided for boys was poor. Arriving in Pakistan with high hopes, the new refugees found the situation as bad, if not as bad as it was in Afghanistan. Immigration to third countries was all but closed.

Less publicized, but equally disruptive, was the displacement of internal populations, from war affected rural areas to cities and from bombed out cities, to rural areas. UNHCR, ICRC and NGO-assisted camps were established in and around Jalalabad in the east, at Pul-I-Khumri, Mazar-I-Sharif and Kunduz in the north, and in Herat in the west. Other IDPs survived on the goodwill and support system of local rural communities. This stretched the resources of towns and rural areas throughout the country, especially south and north of Kabul and in the Hazarajat.

Following the Taliban takeover of Jalalabad and Kabul in September in 1996, the flow of returnees decreased dramatically - on some days none crossed the border- while the number of families crossing into Pakistan once again rose, despite the fact that they were officially discouraged from entering and that only minimum emergency assistance was available. By the end of 1996 total repatriation reached 3.84 million. Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) assisted many returnees. Designed to encourage repatriation and facilitate refugees when they returned, the QIPs provided assistance for a limited period to support improvements in shelter, health and sanitation, education, repaired roads and irrigation systems and offered skills training related to income generation. Many Afghan NGOs also sought to support the sustainable return of refugees and IDPs by strengthening livelihood security, improving economic opportunities, providing basic social safety nets and restoring the environment.

At the beginning of 1997, there were still around 1.2 million Afghan refugees living in refugee villages who lived in the urban centres particularly in Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi. During 1997 some 10,315 families representing 70,123 individuals crossed Pakistan's NWFP border.22 The Iranian government on the other hand refused to register new arrivals from Afghanistan, and the police stepped up their random questioning of Afghans in the street. In periodic waves, both those who had documentation and those who did not were taken to detention centres and then deported once a critical mass had been assembled. In 1998 about 90,000 and in 1999 around 100,000 Afghans were deported after such round-ups in the eastern provinces and in urban centres. One of the most frequent complaints made by government officials about Afghans in Iran was that they were taking jobs, away from the local people because of the low wage rates they were prepared to accept.23

Until 1992, refugee status was granted on a prima facie basis to all Afghans arriving in Iran. Thereafter, all new arrivals were not granted the same (residence rights), thus creating a large group of Afghans considered by the Iranian authorities to be illegal aliens. The majority of Afghans working in Iran do so illegally.24 Pakistan took a similar step in 1998, when it no longer considered Afghans as prima facie refugees, which created hurdles for those who wanted to cross the border and seek refuge in Pakistan. Only those with proper documents were entertained. This was used as a push factor by Pakistan and some of the refugees did return to their country, under the new circumstances.

The outflow of Afghans who sought safety and work in Iran in the period 1994-2001, were not granted refugee status. As a result, all non-official movement across the border in these years appeared as illegal labour migration.25 Hostility toward Afghan refugees reached a new high in late 1998 and early 1998, when mobs attacked, and in some cases killed, Afghan refugees, and demanded their deportation. . Iran deported about 100.000 Afghans in 1999, many of whom were summarily repatriated after round - ups in the eastern provinces and urban centres. In April 2000, the Iranian government and UNHCR began a joint repatriation programme for Afghan refugees. The "Joint Programme" represented an attempt by UNHCR to introduce order and refugee status screening to a process that had become increasingly arbitrary and coercive.

Under this program, Afghans in Iran, regardless of current status or time of arrival, were invited to come forward either to benefit from an assistance package or to repatriate voluntarily or to present their claims for the need for protection from return.26

During the Taliban regime, with which the Iranian government had an antagonistic relationship, Tehran did not press for repatriation, citing economic and security concerns. With the fall of the Taliban, it started adjusting its refugee policy in line with the post-Taliban developments within Afghanistan. At the core of this adjustment was a demand that the refugees return to their country of origin. In late 2001, repatriation resumed once again, although not as rapidly as for Afghans in Pakistan. UNHCR determined that the spontaneous returns were voluntary. However, USCR considered them as involuntary returns resulting from the mass round-ups that occurred prior to the joint repatriation exercise and the deportations during the UNHCR-Iranian joint exercise. USCR evaluated that repatriates from Iran said that they had been coerced into returning.27

In 1999, Pakistan's growing frustration with the seemingly endless conflict in Afghanistan and with its growing refugee population led to increased harassment of Afghan refugees. Police in Pakistan's major cities stopped undocumented Afghans and deported many. In June 1999, police demolished the stalls of a number of Afghan traders at a market in Peshawar and assaulted the traders and their Afghan customers. Later that year, local authorities in Baluchistan pushed back across the border 300 Afghan asylum seekers and forced thousands of Afghan refugees who had been living in Quetta to move to camps.28 92, 000 returned from Pakistan in 1999. In the year 2000, the number of UNHCR assisted returns from Pakistan and Iran was close to double the number compared to previous years with some 75,000 Afghans assisted to return from Pakistan and some 130,000 from Iran under a Joint Programme for the voluntary repatriation of Afghans from Iran. 29

Critics of the repatriation program charged that drought and conflict-ridden Afghanistan was not prepared to integrate returnees and they would become destitute and internally displaced, and, ultimately return to Iran and Pakistan with less certain status than when they left. . In mid -2000, one of the key critics, Medicines Sans

Frontieres, a key non-governmental partner in the repatriation program that had conducted medical screening of returnees, withdrew from the program.30

In early 2001, the government of NWFP, with the acquiescence of the national government, embarked on a policy of mass refoulement. On Jan 23, 2001 the governor of NWFP issued an order authorizing the police to detain and deport any Afghan not holding a valid Afghan passport and Pakistani visa, including both new arrivals and old refugees. The governor reportedly instructed each police station in Peshawar to deport a minimum of five to ten Afghan men daily.31

Pakistan was changing its policy toward Afghans. It now openly said it had had enough, something it had not uttered in the past two decades. It was not ready to welcome new refugees, as turmoil still continued in Afghanistan. Pakistan's actual policy shift occurred in the wake of September 2001, but the attitude of the government had started changing before the terrorist attacks took place. Between 2000 and early 2001, the largest influx of Afghan refugees in several years an estimated 170,0000 new arrivals crossed into Pakistan. As the influx developed Pakistani officials feared that the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the effects of the worst drought to hit that country in 30 years might result in a much larger number of Afghans heading to Pakistan than actually arrived.

That fear was exacerbated by Pakistan's concerns about its faltering economy, resentment toward the international community for its diminished interest in and assistance to Afghan refugees in recent years, increasingly negative attitudes towards Afghan refugees among local people and the media, and the appointment of Iftikhar Hussain Shah as governor of NWFP who has been dubbed to have anti-refugee sentiments. The combination of these factors resulted in what a UN refugee official called an 'irreversible and qualitative' change in Pakistani government attitude, policy and action toward Afghan refugees.32

2002 Repatriation: Achievements and Obstacles

In Jan 2002, UNHCR issue a draft planning document for the "Return and Reintegration of Afghan Refugees and Internally Displaced People" over a three year period, in which it estimated that there were 2.2 million Afghan refugees then living in Pakistan and 1.5 million in Iran. It was envisaged that during the course of 2002 and with the assistance of UNHCR, 400,000 refugees would return from Pakistan, and that the same number would return from Iran. Approximately the same numbers were expected to return in 2003 and 2004.33

Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UNHCR reached an agreement in principle on a legal framework governing the return of Afghan refugees. It for the first time established a formal process for the resolving the issue. Under the agreement (signed in October 2002 and approved by the governments in March 2003), UNHCR would continue to assist the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan for three more years. It is designed to support a gradual organized return that is sustainable.34 After the three years, Afghans remaining in Pakistan would undergo screening to identify those who might be in need of protection.

A joint Agreement was signed in April 2002 with Iran that provided legal framework for the voluntary return of refugees. The agreement covered only the registered Afghans living in Iran; consequently around 40,000 non-registered Afghan citizens were deported in 2002.35

Reasons for return were often cited as the improved social, economic, security and human rights conditions in Afghanistan. The change in political security environment provided opportunities not seen for the past 23 years. The presence of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and many international actors in Kabul provided a level of security and economic opportunity that contributed to relative stability in the capital.

Many refugees began returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran, and some from other countries. Some of the returnees were keen to reconstruct their lives and their country. Others were returning because they did not have any viable alternative of doing so, given the inadequacies of protection in their countries of asylum and transit. Some remained in asylum procedures, the processing of their claims having in some cases been frozen, pending an assessment of changed conditions, and others are being asked to comment on the suggestions that it may now be safe for them to return to Afghanistan. Some were unable to find durable protection in those countries and for others there were concerns that they return because they were unable to await the processing of their claims while being held in indefinite and arbitrary detention.36

Politically, Afghan government had to prove its credibility not only to the international community but its own nation too. It needed the support and backing of its own population, and it knew that if refugees did not return it would be discredited. It therefore, had to make positive overtures to the displaced people in order to make them return to their homeland. The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) was set up and it allowed UNHCR to play a leading role in the repatriation process. The presence of the ISAF on the Afghan soil, was also used by the government to attract returnees. It was signaled to refugees that security and peace were fast returning to Afghanistan, because of the peacekeepers and commitments of the international community to assist Afghanistan in reconstruction and reintegration of the displaced population. These developments soon led to a massive repatriation in the year 2002.

UNHCR's objective was to make repatriation a success story, which in turn would enhance credibility of the institution. It saw that the environment had become conducive and therefore, it should initiate a plan for repatriation. When the plan was announced at the beginning of the year 2002, many observers believed that the hosts and UNHCR estimates were too high. Assisted repatriation began from Pakistan on 1 March and from Iran on 6 April. By the end of August, the number of returnees from

Pakistan had already exceeded the planning figure by more than 300 percent and the repatriation operation was judged "an overwhelming success" on 6 October, the office of UNHCR's Chief of Mission in Kabul announced that 1.5 million had been assisted to return from Pakistan and 222,000 from Iran. The total number of assisted cross border returnees (including nearly 10,000 from Tajikistan) was 1.7 million. The international system staffed and budgeted and prepared for targeted level, was not ready to assist the huge flow. In a repatriation and assistance operation UNHCR budgeted more than $142 million.37 UNHCR's budget was stretched by the extraordinary interest in return, forcing the agency to make cutbacks in some programmes and to focus its aid in four priority areas: protection, travel, assistance/returnee packages, shelter and water. The agency halved the number of shelter kits it planned to distribute to needy Afghan families from 97,000 to 50,000.38

Despite the fact of returning Afghans was double than the number anticipated, the operation was considered "amazingly successful."39 Ron Redmond, spokesman of the UNHCR said, "considering the state of Afghanistan's infrastructure an the security problems that still affect many areas, this is an astonishing number.40 The return rate declined toward the winter months with weekly returns of about 2000 during December.

Compared with recent assisted repatriation exercises elsewhere in the world, the figures for Afghan refugees were truly impressive. Two of UNHCR's largest repatriation exercises during the 1 990s were in Cambodia and Mozambique. In 1992 and 1993, 360,000 to 370,000 Cambodians returned home over a period of 12 months, mostly from camps on the Thai-Cambodian border, in an operation that was described at the time as "one of the largest and most complex operations ever undertaken by UNHCR." In the largest repatriation exercise ever organized in Africa, 1.7 million Mozambiqans returned from six neighboring countries over a period of four years (1992-96). The relatively smooth return of so many people to Afghanistan just over six months in 2002, was considered as a tribute to the professionalism and dedicated hard work, under very difficult conditions, of hundreds of UNHCR and NGO staff, both national and international.41

And yet, "overwhelming success," as it was certainly from the point of view of numbers and logistics, it could be argued that this judgment was as premature as the return movement itself.

For those returning from Pakistan, the cash grant, which was intended to cover transport costs, was originally set at US $100 per family (US $20 per individual family member, with a ceiling of five members per family.) This made recycling particularly profitable for those in NWFP and Baluchistan, where most Afghan refugees are concentrated, who had to travel relatively short distances to pick up their cash grants and assistance packages in Jalalabad, Kabul or Kandahar. According to one calculation, a family of five making the return trip from Islamabad to Jalalabad or Kabul could make a profit of Rs 3360 (approximately US $56) per trip, which is about what a daily laborer in Pakistan can earn in a month. 42

Pakistan closed down certain camps and cooperated with the UNHCR in assisting repatriation. The Voluntary Repatriation Programme led to closing down of the sprawling Nasir Bagh camp in the suburbs of Peshawar city. Housing more than 80,000 individuals and established in early 1 9080s, Nasir Bagh Camp was formally closed in May 2002. The infamous Jalozai Camp43 near Peshawar too was dismantled. In case of Jalozai, the refugees were relocated to other camps before repatriation started.

There are mobile teams of UNHCR and Society for Human Rights and Prisoners Aid (SHARP, a partner NGO in repatriation), carry out verifications on spot. These teams visit the homes of intending returnees, who request them to accompany them to their homes. The members of the family are questioned and the team must be convinced that the family is really returning and is not composed of recyclers- people who have already received aid but are now back in Pakistan and Iran for a second payment.44

Pakistan allowed the UNHCR to set Voluntary Repatriation Centres, hereafter (VRCs). Refugees requesting repatriation assistance under the Afghan government and UNHCR facilitated programme are verified at VRCs established both in Pakistan and Iran. In order to prevent possible abuse of the repatriation assistance, UNHCR workers carefully screen refugees during interviews at the agency's registration centres. This rigid verification is carried out to make sure that only genuine returnees are registered and entitled to basic necessities. Once registered, the refugees are given a voucher they can then turn over to one of the 32 distribution points being set up in each Afghan province, where they receive up to $100 per family to cover their transportation costs and other basic necessities. Registration documents serve as ID papers in Afghanistan.45

The difficulty was compounded by the unexpectedly large numbers of people passing through the VRCs and encashment centres during the peak months of return. For example, at the Mohmnadara encashment centre, near Jalalabad, more than 58,000 families were processed during March, April and May- an average of more than 600 families, or 3000 individuals, per day. The staff was under great pressure during these months to work quickly, so that the returnees, especially children, did not have to stand for long periods in the sun. It was therefore impossible to engage in time-consuming verification procedures. Verification guidelines issued to the teams by UNHCR's Jalalabad office attempted to introduce some objectivity into what was essentially a subjective exercise of identifying "artificial" families and ascertaining the "genuine" nature of an individual's intention to return.

The guidelines included instructions to separate out family members for questioning and then to check the consistency of their replies and to ask families to identify their luggage on the trucks so that it could be checked against the "luggage cards" filled out by staff at the Takht Baig VRC near Peshawar. Inevitably, the methods used were not only largely subjective, but also highly labour intensive and, presumably, expensive.46

UN refugee agency staff inside Afghanistan scrutinizes returnees prior to handing over assistance to better ensure that their repatriation is permanent. This showed an improvement in the UNHCR's strategy in dealing with repatriation. In place of the previous system that saw returnees collect travel assistance and grant of $100 per family since June 1,2002, the UNHCR established a graduated system under which Afghans going back to Nangarhar and other eastern provinces now receive $10 per individual. Those heading to central Afghanistan get $20 while those returning to northern provinces receive $30 per person.47

Pakistan does not want recyclers, as it would not lead to shedding the refugee burden. Moreover, it would be earning the criticism of Afghanistan and international community for welcoming refugees, whom they now think should be in their own country rather than in Pakistan. Therefore, officially, it keeps its border with Afghanistan closed for new refugees as well as recyclers. It wants one-way movement - Afghans going back to their country and not coming back. However, the problem of recycling persists despite strategies adopted by Pakistan, Iran and UNHCR.

"Dealing with the problem not easy, for there is no sure way of identifying a recycler. An average caseworker who fills in 50 forms a day, six days a week cannot possibly remember all the faces he has seen. He has little to go on but his instincts and memory. And a recycler will often send different family members - a husband, a wife, and a son - to the VRC each time, thereby making recognition even more difficult. Every now and then, of course, a caseworker will spot someone he knows he has seen before, but for the greater part, the matter is one of suspicion and uncertainty."48

During the end of August 2002, 67,375 families (around 400,000 individuals) applying for repatriation assistance at VRCs in Pakistan had been rejected. This represented about 20 percent of the total. Not all of these would have been rejected as recyclers, but the following observation from UNHCR's Pakistan office suggested that many of them probably were.49

It was even more difficult to know the number of those entered the repatriation programme with the intention of re-establishing themselves in Afghanistan (and who should not, therefore, be considered recyclers) but who found conditions so difficult in their home areas that they returned to Pakistan before the winter.50 The actual number of Afghan refugees settled in Pakistan has never been clearly established. It is impossible to obtain precise figures. Published and unpublished totals can only be described as 'intelligent estimates,' the main reason for which is that the refugee population is large extremely mobile, dispersed over large tracts of land, and often located inaccessible areas.

Pakistan. The UNHCR is cautiously checking the refugees so that those coming back should not apply for assistance again. However, he said the government of Pakistan should also be active to check the problem. 51 But with no birth certificates or others records to examine, sorting the bogus from the real is difficult and it involves indirect checks like talking to neighbors, comparing the histories narrated by family members and if their luggage contains kitchen equipment.

However, there was fear that mistakes had been made in refusing assistance to legitimate refugees. This problem has been taken note of and UNHCR feels that it will not be repeating similar mistakes. "Last year (2002) we tried our best. But sometimes we were too busy and some staff did not get enough training, says Nawal Atme, a member of the Swedish Refugee Board seconded to UNHCR. "This year we will have no excuse." Staff is being given a month long intensive training to identify and verify genuine returnees. Some of the staff is made to play the role of would - be returnees to test the skills of workers undergoing training. "We have fake families and all kinds of case - complicated cases that repatriation staff always encounter," says Atme. "Its more than detecting those not entitled to assistance - they must understand that not all refugees are cheaters and recyclers," she added, referring to people seeking assistance more than once.52

In Iran, the official figure for assisted returns from March to early October 2002 was significantly less than that of Pakistan. One reason could be that recyclers did not inflate the figure for Iran. Recycling appears to have been much less prevalent among returnees from Iran than from Pakistan. This could have been partly because of the relatively greater distances traveled by returnees from Iran and partly because the Iranian border is, in general, more heavily policed than the Pakistani border. But it could also have been because of the way the assistance package was organized for returnees from Iran an, in particular, because of the relatively small size of the cash grant they received.

Travel in Iran to the Afghan border was organized by UNHCR. Once arrived in Afghanistan, returnees were provided with free transport (initially by the International Organisation of Migration) to the capital city of their home province, where they received a cash grant of US $10 per person, which was intended to cover at least part of the cost of onward transportation. Families (but not single men, who constituted a much higher proportion of returnees from Iran than from Pakistan) were provided with a "family return package" of food and non-food items, including (for a family of 4 - 8 members) 150 kg. of wheat.53 Considering that most returnees from Iran had to travel long distances on both sides of the border (from Tehran to Kabul, for example) it is clear that assistance package, and particularly the cash grant , provided little incentive for the would - be recycler.

Another factor that discouraged recycling from Iran was that it normally took a month to obtain a voluntary repatriation form (VRF), which had to be applied for in the refugee's area of residence. This contrasted with practice in Pakistan, where a family could turn up at a VRC, in a vehicle already packed with belongings, ready to set off for Afghanistan, and obtain a VRF literally there and then.54

There is something paradoxical, then, about the role of cash grants in assisted repatriation - a role that has been developed uniquely in repatriation programme for Afghan refugees since the early 1990s. The paradox is that while the cash grants system provides the most straightforward and efficient means of counting returnees that has yet been devised, the resulting figures are not an accurate record of those who have actually repatriated. The same was true of the encashment programme of the early 1990s.55

To prevent Afghan recyclers from getting repatriation assistance, Iris Technology was first setup at the VRC in Peshawar in October 2002. This technology was predicted to have the effect of "ultimately eliminating recyclers. This move was obviously motivated by the best intentions, notably that of enabling staff to "concentrate on persons of concern, and devote more time to assisting vulnerable individuals."56

The Iris test was welcomed by UNHCR staff, as a non - subjective check for refugees receiving traveling assistance to repatriate. But it still must be supplemented by the judgment of the staff, both to detect potential abuse, such as repeated returns by children under 12 who cannot be iris tested, and to ensure protection of vulnerable refugees.57 The Iris technology has its critics too. While on one hand it helps the UNHCR to aid only those who actually intend to repatriate and discourage bogus return, on the other, it has been considered as an effective weapon used to control and prevent recyclers, thereby restricting them to cross the border back even if they face problems in their home country upon return.58

Refugees, who opted to return in 2002, had to face difficulties. While UNHCR voiced satisfaction with the return of massive numbers, but expressed concern that more must be done to ensure their successful repatriation. " I would say Afghanistan has been very good on repatriation, but there is till the security point," said Lubbers. "There are valuable efforts and a good beginning on reintegration, but it is still too weak."59

Lubbers admitted that a major challenge to UNHCR's effort to help Afghans repatriate has been security incidents in some parts of the country that has forced people to flee, particularly ethnic Pushtun communities living in northern parts of Afghanistan. The security problem has impeded repatriation and even caused new displacement. "It is essential that there should be an improvement in the security situation," he said.60 Persecution of ethnic minorities is less widespread, but is likely to continue for a long time in rural areas, and areas under the control of various ethnic factions and warlords. Sometimes security problems are related to old scores and rivalries between warlords and their people.

The question of security is key to successful repatriation, but it is a fallacy to assume that there would be "a more secure Afghanistan by seeing less Afghans going home. No, it's the other way round. The process is a peace building process itself."61 Security drives the refugees back home. But to bring security to a country like Afghanistan which has been ripped by years of instability and civil war, is not only difficult but next to impossible in the immediate run. It will take years till the remnants of the war are completely removed from the society.

Kabul is relatively secure, because of the presence of ISAF. Large numbers of returnees are therefore, going to Kabul, partly because of lack of security in other parts of the country. It means that return to those places is not generally viable. In Kabul, the shortage of housing and inadequate infrastructure has caused concern about the spread of disease and the provision of basic services.62

Returning refugees are having trouble finding places to live, especially in Kabul, where there is a severe housing crisis. In the country many refugees are arriving to find their houses burnt or bombed. The majority of people who left this country left as rural people, but in Pakistan they became urbanized. Of the estimated 1.7 million refugees that returned in the year 2002, around one third chose to resettle in Kabul and the surrounding provinces. These include many people who have never lived in Kabul but who came because they perceived better economic and security conditions. About 3,000 refugee families are living either in tents or abandoned government buildings in Kabul, according to Mohammed Hafiz Nadim, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation. 63 Harsh winters have made things worse for returnees.

Basic infrastructure in the country needs to be rebuilt and restored to make return for refugees more attractive. For example, only 13% of Afghanistan's road infrastructure was paved in 1991, most of which has been further destroyed due to hostilities among various factions64. The telephone and telegraph network that linked major towns hardly function. Educational facilities have also been severely affected by years of conflict. Great attention is needed in these sectors, as they play an important role in attracting refugees home.

It is essential that return is sustainable in order to break cycle of displacement. Although the international community, including UNHCR, cannot and should not obstruct the individual decision of a refugee or refugee family to return, it is incumbent on those engaged in facilitating repatriation that refugees are fully informed about the lack of sustainability of the current situation, as a consequence both of the instability of the situation and diminishing absorption capacity.

Some 4.5 billion dollars of aid was pledged at a conference on Afghan reconstruction in Tokyo early 2002. But donor nations have been reluctant to produce the money while fears over the country's stability persist. Total stability would not return to Afghanistan until aid is delivered and refugees have come home. "People think that

UNHCR has cash reserves, that is not the case. We have to live from day to day, so we have really got to have money from the international donors," said Rudd Lubbers. Sometimes the aid has gone to bogus returnees; these bogus claimants have used the border as a 'revolving door' to secure money several times. More than one hundred families who repatriated to Afghanistan have re-migrated to Pakistan because of lack of jobs, security and shelter.65

From the repatriation process, it is obvious that return is more emphasized than the sustainability of refugees in their homeland. Return is important to both home and host country, but the latter is always apprehensive of the flow back in case sustainability is not given priority. Sustainable return happens when returnee's physical and material security is assured and when a constructive relationship between returnees, civil society and the state is consolidated. The Afghan government has not emerged strong enough to exert control beyond the capital. It has yet to bring security to the country and build up the infrastructure, to absorb and sustain the returnees. The economy has to be revived to provide not only to maintain official expenditure but also to provide jobs to those who desperately need employment. When the government is still dependent upon the international community for funds and ISAF for security, it cannot be expected that life for returnees is better off than in the host countries.

Unless returnees are ensured political, economic and social security, their reintegration is a big question mark. If repatriation is to be successful, then the numbers crossing the border is not the only important factor, their sustainability and integration is equally important.

While repatriation of large numbers became success story for UNHCR's achievement during the years 2002-2004, yet it brought into question whether the organization fulfilled its duty by repatriating refugees in conditions of safety and dignity. The fact that UNHCR continues to facilitate and not promote voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan is significant that in doing so it acknowledges that the situation in Afghanistan is neither objectively safe for returnees, nor in its estimation most of the returns are likely to be durable. The numbers assumed importance over durability of repatriation. It has used the Iris technology to detect recyclers. This proved to be of great utility to prevent recyclers from getting assistance the second time. However, UNHCR has not been able to devise any strategy to prevent recycling of those who do not go through the verification process or the Iris detecting technology again.

UNHCR's initial strategy of phased repatriation also failed, because the number of returnees far surpassed the initial figures estimated to return in the year 2002. This exposed it, as it had not assessed the euphoria amongst Afghans. UNHCR's budget was soon stretched by the extraordinary interest in return. It had to make cutbacks in some programs, which showed short sightedness on the part of the organization. The return of such a great number has left Afghanistan with complex problems of accommodating and feeding a large impoverished population. The expectations of returnees are turning into disappointment, which indirectly impact on the decision of the remaining refugees in Pakistan and Iran.

UNHCR should make adequate arrangements for the protection and safety of its own staff in carrying out repatriation and rehabilitation activities. It may involve the Afghan government and locals in providing them the necessary protection. Attacks on UNHCR workers in Afghanistan, have led to temporary suspension of its activities in the areas, where they operate. When it closes down its office, returnees feel more vulnerable and question the credibility of the organization, which promise them security and protection.


There is a great deal of uncertainty about the future direction of Afghanistan. While repatriation has taken place amidst insecurity and economic instability, the government needs to take emergency steps to reintegrate the returnees and prevent the flight of its population to neighboring countries. The hopes of returnees should not turn into disappointment otherwise the Afghan government will lose its credibility and trust amongst its own population.

Furthermore, the Afghan government has to broaden its support amongst its own population to establish its credibility; otherwise it will remain weak and incapable of rebuilding the war-devastated country. The longer the Afghan government takes to rely on foreign elements for security, situation would not improve. Gradually it has to reduce its support on them and increasingly involve Afghans to defend the country against internal threats to security. The government has to expedite developing its national army to control and prevent the activities of various militias in the country. Warlordism and extremist elements still threaten the fragile peace. The government has to take serious measures to disarm and reduce the role of warlords otherwise peace will remain an elusive objective.

Mine clearance is essential for farming and making the land safe for living. Thousands of mines are still strewn in various parts of Afghanistan. Unless removed, agricultural activities are not going to start, in turn making the lives of returnees more miserable.

The Afghan government therefore, has to adopt a balanced and integrated approach to make repatriation durable and sustainable. The essential confidence and will of the people to overcome the present difficulties and face challenges need to come from within, rather than strategies worked out on foreign lands to rebuild and reconstruct Afghanistan. This paper was originally prepared for the conference on The Challenge of Rebuilding Afghanistan 2005 organized by Program on Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution; Department of International Relations, University of Karachi and Hanss Seidel Foundation, Islamabad.


1 Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) UN General Assembly Resolution No.217 A. 10th December 1948

2 "UNHCR Returnee Monitoring Report Afghanistan Repatriation. Jan-March 2002." July 22, 2003

3. Hiram A Ruiz, "Repatriation: Tackling Protection and Assistance Concerns," in World Refugee Survey. US Committee for Refugees (USCR) Washington. 1993.p.21

4 UNHCR. Handbook on Voluntary Repatriation : International Protection. Geneva 1996 p.6

5 Protection of Refugees: A Field Guide for NGOs, produced jointly by UNHCR and its NGO Partners. UN.1990.

6 Ibid.

7 The Iranian government took formal responsibility for the refugee population and - in sharp contrast to Pakistan - allowed foreign NGOs, international organizations and UNHCR only a marginal role. Although it received large number of refugees, Iran was generally considered a supportive country. Refugees were not required to settle in camps, but could live where they found work. They also had access to health care, basic education and subsidized food on the same terms as Iranian citizens. However, there were considerable restrictions on physical movement, and government permits were required for travel within the country. Afghan Refugees in Iran: From Refugee Emergency to Migration Management in a policy brief written by Arne Strande and Astri Suhrke and Kristian Berg Harpviken. Chr. Michelssen Institute, Bergen and the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. 16 June 2004

8 Ghulam Umar, "The Refugee Problem: An Overview." Pakistan Horizon. Quarterly. VolXXXVIII. No.1. 1985. Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. Karachi. Pakistan. p.25

9 Refugee Policy Group. Afghanistan: Trends and Prospects for Refugee Repatriation. Washington D.C. April 1992.

10 David Turton, and Peter Marsden. Taking Refugees for a Ride? : The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. Kabul. December 2002 p.1 1

11 Ibid. p.10

12 Ibid. p.14

13 Ibid. 11

14 Although UNHCR ultimately obtained some funds for Afghan refugees in Iran , the disparity in expenditures between Pakistan and Iran remained substantial throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Between 1979 and 1997, UNHCR spent more than US$1billion on Afghan refugees in Pakistan, but only US $150 on those in Iran. See Taking Refugees for a Ride? : The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. Afghanistan.p.1 1

15 Rasul Baksh Rais, War Without Winners: Afghanistan's Uncertain Transition after the Cold War. Oxford University Press. Karachi. 1997. pp.236-238

16 Refugee Policy Group. Afghanistan: Trends and Prospects for Refugee Repatriation. April 1992. p.1 1

17 Ibid.

18 Taking Refugees for a Ride? : The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. p.11

19 . K Warikoo, (ed). The Afghanistan Crisis: Issues and Perspectives. Bhavan Books and Prints. New Delhi.2002 Preface of the book . xvii

20 Taking Refugees for a Ride?: The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. p.13

21 Ibid. p.12

22 UNHCR. Briefing Note on Assistance to Afghan Refugees in NWFP, Pakistan. Peshawar. August 1998

23 Taking Refugees for a Ride?: The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. p.15

24 Ibid.

25 Arne Strande, Astri Suhrke and Kristian Berg Harpviken. Afghan Refugees in Iran: From Refugee Emergency to Migration Management. A policy brief written by. Chr. Michelssen Institute, Bergen and the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. Norway 16 June 2004

26 USCR. Pakistan: Afghan Refugees Shunned and Scorned. September 2001 p.21

27 Ibid. p.22

28 Refugee Studies Centre. "September 1 1th: Has Anything Changed?" Forced Migration Review; No. 13, June 2002 UK. p.10

29 UNHCR. Return of Refugees from Neighboring Countries. December 2000.p.8

30 Ibid.

31 Afghan Refugees Shunned and Scorned .p.29

32 USCR interview with UNHCR representative Hasim Uktan, Islamabad, June 2001 .Also see USCR-Pakistan :Afghan Refugees Shunned and Scorned. P.5

33 UNHCR. "Afghanistan Humanitarian Update." No.67. January 3,2003

34 UNHCR. "Afghanistan Tripartite Agreement with Pakistan." News Stories. March 18, 2003

35 UNHCR. "Returnee Monitoring Report Afghanistan Repatriation. Jan-March 2002." July 22, 2003

36 See statement of Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Australia, "Afghan Nationals Voluntary Return Home," Media Release, MPS 67/2002, 22nd July 2002

37 UNHCR. "UNHCR Trims Aid Programmes as Record Numbers Return to Afghanistan." News Stories, July 23,2002

38 Ibid.

39 UNHCR. "Afghan Repatriation is Top 2002 Event." December

30, 2002

40 The News International. September 4, 2002

41 . Taking Refugees for a Ride?: The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan p 20

42 Ibid

43 Jalozai became a refuge for desperate Afghans fleeing civil war an drought beginning in late 2000 when they could find no other place to settle. The unofficial Jalozai site was a precarious haven where they endured tremendous hardship. Many succumbed to the winter cold and stifling heat waves of 2001 as they lacked suitable shelter and sanitation . Conditions at Jalozai deteriorated further following the post-11 September refugee influx. Seeking to avert a humanitarian crisis, UNHCR and the Pakistan government reached an agreement to relocate Jalozai's undocumented refugees to new sites where full assistance and protection could be provided.

44 Ibid

45 UNHCR. News Stories. March 15, 2002

46 Ibid.

47 The News International. June 27,2002

48 Taking Refugees for a Ride?: The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. p21

49 Ibid.

50 Ibid.

51 The News International. April 19, 2002

52 UNHCR. "UNHCR Gears Up for 2003 Afghan Repatriation." News Stories. February 24, 2003

53 Taking Refugees for a Ride?: The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. p23

54 Ibid.

55 bid.

56 Ibid. p.25

57 UNHCR. "UNHCR Gears Up for 2003 Afghan Repatriation." News Stories. February 24, 2003

58 Taking Refugees for a Ride? : The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. p25

59 UNHCR. "Lubbers Happy with Returns, but Worried About Reintegration." News Stories. August 28, 2002

60 Ibid

61 Ibid

62 Brian, Macquarrie. "Stream of Refuges Swells Squalid Kabul." The Boston Globe. May 1, 2002

63 The News International. January 25,2005

64 See Asian Development Bank's News Release No. 052/02, April 9, 2002 65UNHCR. Repatriating Afghan Refugees Remigrate." News Stories. September 13, 2002.


Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) UN General Assembly Resolution No.2 17 A. 10th December 1948.

"UNHCR Returnee Monitoring Report Afghanistan Repatriation. Jan-March 2002." July 22, 2003

Ruiz, Hiram A. (1993). "Repatriation: Tackling Protection and Assistance Concerns."

World Refugee Survey. US Committee for Refugees (USCR) Washington. UNHCR. (1996). Handbook on Voluntary Repatriation : International Protection.


Protection of Refugees: A Field Guide for NGOs (1990). Produced Jointly by UNHCR and its NGO Partners.

Umar, Ghulam. (1985)."The Refugee Problem: An Overview." Pakistan Horizon. Quarterly. VolXXXVIII. No.1. 1985. Pakistan Institute of International Affairs. Karachi. Pakistan.

Refugee Policy Group (1992). Afghanistan: Trends and Prospects for Refugee Repatriation. Washington DC.

Turton, David. & Marsden, Peter. (2002). Taking Refugees for a Ride? : The Politics of Refugee Return to Afghanistan. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. Kabul.

Rais, Rasul Baksh. (1997). War Without Winners: Afghanistan's Uncertain Transition after the Cold War. Karachi: Oxford University Press.

Refugee Policy Group. (1992, April). Afghanistan: Trends and Prospects for Refugee Repatriation. Washington D.C.

Warikoo, K. (Ed). (2002). The Afghanistan Crisis: Issues and Perspectives. New Delhi: Bhavan Books and Prints.

UNHCR. (1998, August). Briefing Note on Assistance to Afghan Refugees in NWFP, Pakistan. Peshawar.

Strande, Arne., Suhrke, Astri., & Harpviken, Kristian Berg. (2004, June 16). Afghan Refugees in Iran: From Refugee Emergency to Migration Management. Chr. Michelssen Institute, Bergen and the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. Norway.

USCR (2001). Pakistan: Afghan Refugees Shunned and Scorned.

Refugee Studies Centre. (2002). "September 11th: Has Anything Changed?" Forced Migration Review; No. 13, UK.

UNHCR (2000). Return of Refugees from Neighboring Countries.

UNHCR. (2003, January) "Afghanistan Humanitarian Update." No.67.

UNHCR. (2002, December) "Afghan Repatriation is Top 2002 Event." The News International. June 27,2002.

The News International. April 19, 2002.

Macquarrie, Brian. "Stream of Refuges Swells Squalid Kabul." The Boston Globe. May 1, 2002

The News International. January 25,2005

Asian Development Bank's News Release No. 052/02, April 9, 2002

Nasreen Ghufran Department of International Relations University of Peshawar "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."
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