Tag Archives: Refugee

World Refugee Day 2012

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Hari Pelarian Sedunia 2012

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Aid Worker Diaries – Top 10 Critical Needs Facing Refugees & Persons Displaced in Emergencies

During the initial stages of a conflict or natural disaster, those who are forced to flee are particularly at risk—women, children and young people most of all.

The Women’s Refugee Commission has identified 10 pressing needs that must be met during the first weeks and months of an emergency to ensure the safety and well-being of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs)*. Some 43 million people are currently uprooted from their homes by armed conflict and persecution.

1. Keep refugees and IDPs safe. Ensure that they are settled in a secure location away from borders and ongoing conflict.

2. Provide safe access to basic needs, including food, safe and appropriate cooking fuel, potable water, sanitation and shelter.

3. Communicate with the people most affected and ensure their safety whether or not they have legal status or official documents. Ensure every adult is provided with individual documentation that allows him or her to access key services.

4. Provide life-saving health care, including reproductive health care. Ensure there are enough health workers and all necessary medicines and supplies to prevent and respond to infectious diseases and other health needs. Establish priority reproductive health services for women and girls.

5. Prevent and respond to sexual violence. Protect women and children from sexual violence by ensuring safe access to food, cooking fuel, water, latrines and other basic necessities. Offer medical services and psychosocial support to survivors of sexual violence.

6. Reduce the transmission of HIV. Enforce use of infection control measures by health workers; make condoms freely available; and ensure blood for transfusion is safe by screening it for HIV and other blood-borne diseases.

7. Prevent excess maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. Provide skilled birth attendants for normal births; manage obstetric complications at health facilities; establish 24-hour emergency referral system; provide contraceptives to meet demands; provide clean delivery kits to all visibly pregnant women.

8. Identify vulnerable individuals with specific needs, such as unaccompanied minors, child- or women-headed households, pregnant women, victims of trafficking and persons with disabilities. Secure their care and physical security. Monitor, report and respond to violations against children.

9. Provide education to children and young people. Offer structure for children and restore hope and a sense of normalcy in a safe, adult-supervised space. Teach basic literacy and numeracy skills, and provide vocational training for young people.

10. Provide economic opportunities and preserve existing economic assets. Build on refugees’ skills, taking into account local market needs, to provide the best chance for a sustainable income. Protect women and girls from sexual exploitation by providing them with economic opportunities.

* A refugee has crossed an international border; an internally displaced person (IDP) has fled from his or her home but is still in his or her own country.

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/blogs/aid-worker-diaries/top-10-critical-needs-facing-refugees-persons-displaced-in-emergencies/

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Kenya: A growing refugee crisis


NAIROBI, 19 June 2009 (IRIN) – Ever-worsening security in Somalia is prompting large numbers of civilians to flee into Kenya, where facilities to host them are stretched to bursting point, raising fears of a major refugee crisis.

Dadaab in eastern Kenya, is home to an estimated 279,000 mainly Somali refugees – triple its designated capacity. Its Dagahaley, Hagadera and Ifo camps together comprise the largest refugee site in the world.

Kenya’s closure of its Somali border in January 2007 did little to stem the tide. “On average, about 7,000 Somali refugees are coming into the country every month this year,” Kellie Leeson, International Rescue Committee (IRC) country director for Kenya, told IRIN.

“We need more land for Dadaab to spread the camp out so that people can live in dignity,” she said. The UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR) is talking with the Kenyan government in an effort to obtain more land.

IRC is providing healthcare services in Dadaab as well as water and sanitation services in Kakuma camp, northwestern Kenya.

“The high [refugee] population has made it extremely challenging to deliver services,” Leeson said. “Water has been a really big challenge as well as provision of adequate latrines.”

Overcrowding

“The overcrowding [in Dadaab] means that international standards for basic services are not being met,” according to Refugees International.

“There is a shortfall of 36,000 latrines and 50 percent of the refugees have access to less than 13 litres of water per day,” the NGO said in recent special report on Somali refugees.

The agency went on to appeal for the reopening of a reception centre for Somali refugees shut by the Kenyan authorities in May 2008. “This will ensure an orderly and humane screening and registration process, while having the added benefit for the Kenyan government of reducing cross-border security threats.”

On this point Leeson said: “Health screening at a border reception centre is needed in order to prevent the spread of disease inside the congested camps.”

In March, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that Kenya was in the midst of a rapidly escalating refugee crisis.

Between August 2008 and the end of February 2009, “just over 35,000 new arrivals [in Dadaab] received no shelter and have been forced to sleep under open skies in makeshift shelters that provide little protection from the harsh weather, or in cramped confines with relatives or strangers who were already living in conditions well below minimum humanitarian standards,” HRW said.

Soured relations

Relations with the surrounding Kenyan population have also at times soured. “The host community is struggling especially with the high food prices and drought,” Leeson said. IRC, along with UNHCR, and other partners, is working with local community leaders in an effort to prevent conflict in Dadaab and Kakuma.

The local community neighbouring Dadaab has in the past resisted the expansion of the camp boundaries, saying it is already encroaching on their land.

In Kakuma, most of the refugees are of Somali origin, coming either via Dadaab or Nairobi. Its population has almost halved since 2006 due to the large scale repatriation of its Sudanese population in the wake of a 2005 peace accord.

“Now there are about 42,000 refugees remaining in the camp, who can’t yet return home, and are fully dependent on [external support],” she said.

“A lot of people thought Kakuma would just go [away],” she said, “But the numbers of refugees are still high and we must meet their urgent needs.”

Dependency

A statement by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) said: “Ten percent of the refugees in Kakuma have lived in the camp for over 10 years, some longer than 15 with no perspective and no hope of a durable solution. This causes dependency and problems with the local community.”

According to JRS, societies and governments tend to perceive refugees as a problem. “But, we need to see that behind the large numbers are human beings like you and me. They have been uprooted from their countries by conflict, persecution or violence,” said Frido Pflueger, JRS/Eastern Africa director.

IRC’s Leeson urged the Kenyan government to also fully implement its own Refugees’ Act of 2006. “On paper, the act gives rights to refugees, but in practice it is not yet fully enforced and many people in positions of authority aren’t aware of its content or the rights it confers,” she said. “We also urgently need extended funds as the [refugee] population continues to grow,” she said.

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[END] A selection of IRIN reports are posted on ReliefWeb. Find more IRIN news and analysis at http://www.irinnews.org

Une sélection d’articles d’IRIN sont publiés sur ReliefWeb. Trouvez d’autres articles et analyses d’IRIN sur http://www.irinnews.org

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. Refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use.

Cet article ne reflète pas nécessairement les vues des Nations Unies. Voir IRIN droits d’auteur pour les conditions d’utilisation.

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Pakistan fighting could swell camp population to 800,000

Source: ActionAid

Date: 12 May 2009

Pakistan needs international help to cope with the hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing the fighting between government and Taliban forces in northwest Pakistan, ActionAid said today.

Fikre Zewdie, director of ActionAid Pakistan said: “More than 800,000 people could soon be living in camps or waiting for places in them. People urgently need food, water, shelter, sanitation and health care. The fighting could continue for a longer period, so they will not be going home soon. Pakistan cannot handle a crisis on this scale without international help.”

ActionAid staff are now in the field assessing the situation so that ActionAid can respond appropriately and effectively to help those in need. The exodus began when government forces began operations against the Taliban in Swat and neighbouring districts last week. The temporary lifting of a curfew on Sunday 10 May allowed many more people to leave.

About 360,000 displaced people have now registered with the authorities, in camps or other locations, in Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda and Kohat districts. But many more are waiting to register or still on the move. Authorities in Mardan estimate that altogether 600,000 to 800,000 people have been displaced by the latest fighting. The majority are expected to find rented accommodation or stay with relatives. But accommodation in the towns is becoming scarce. Aid agencies estimate that 300,000 will come to the camps, where 560,000 are already living because of earlier fighting in tribal areas. This could swell the camp population to more than 800,000.

People are queuing in very hot weather for tents or shelters, often fruitlessly. Water, medicine and sanitation facilities are very scarce and people are becoming increasingly agitated. The registration process requires identity documents, but some people left home too hurriedly to bring these with them and many, particularly women, do not have ID cards in the first place. —ENDS—

For more information, or to interview ActionAid staff in the field, contact Tony Durham, +44 (0)20 7561 7636, mobile 07872 378251

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Bhutanese refugees: forgotten generations see small glimmer of hope

“I was forced to be a refugee when I was a fetus in my mother’s womb,” lamented sixteen year old Indra Acharya. “It is very sad to be forced to be a refugee before your birth.”

Indra was born and has lived all his life in one of the seven refugee camps in Nepal’s south eastern Terai districts of Jhapa and Morang. Like tens of thousands of other Bhutanese of Nepali ancestry, Indra’s family was expelled from Bhutan in the early 1990’s and became refugees in Nepal.

A life in limbo

For almost two decades, the Bhutanese refugees have been living in Nepal, waiting for a resolution of the crisis that forced them to flee. Sixteen failed bilateral discussions between the Governments of Bhutan and Nepal have meant that generations have been lost with nowhere to go and little to look forward to in the future.

“The young generation is becoming increasingly frustrated because they want jobs and educational opportunities,” said Menuka Nepal, the volunteer camp secretary, “The youth do not want to be confined to the camps longer than is necessary.”

The over 100,000 displaced Bhutanese have no legal access to land or jobs in their host country, Nepal. With no means of cultivating food and limited opportunities for economic alternatives for self sufficiency, the refugees have been entirely dependent on international aid organizations for their survival.

Camp life

In spite of their uncertain future, many who live in the camps have volunteered their time and skills to better the lives of their communities. Chandra Maya Khatiwada is thirty five years old and has lived almost half of her life as a refugee. She lives with her husband, teenage son and parents in a simple bamboo hut in one of the refugee camps.

One week after her arrival in the camps in Nepal, the nineteen year old Chandra Maya volunteered her medical services in the refugee camps. Between 1993 and 2003, Chandra Maya helped more than five hundred babies into this world. For fifteen years, Chandra Maya has waited for the chance to go back home to Bhutan, but with little hope.

New horizons for some

After years, the forgotten Bhutanese refugees saw the possibility of a chance for the future. The United States, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Denmark have offered to resettle nearly 90,000 refugees. Together with her family, Chandra Maya has signed up for resettlement in the United States and is looking forward to a new beginning. However, only half of the refugees have enrolled their interest for a third country resettlement; with some hankering for the chance of repatriation and others wishing to stay in Nepal.

Chandra Bir Thapa is 71 years old and spends much of his time in the camp’s Elderly People’s Recreation Centre, where the refugee men gather daily to read newspapers sing, pray, discuss and keep the memories of Bhutan alive. Chandra Bir’s dream is to be able to return to Bhutan one day. “I will not restrict my other family members [to resettle]; either I will go back to Bhutan – if people are taken back with dignity and respect – or I will stay in Nepal.” He said. “I am too old and my memory is fading, what will I do in a third country without understanding the language there?”

Whatever choices the refugees now have, the solutions have been slow in coming and humanitarian assistance alone will not help without real political will to solve the plight of already lost generations.

Long term assistance

The European Commission has been assisting the refugees for the last seven years, through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), with almost €26 million for food aid and camp management. The humanitarian assistance has made a practical difference to the refugees’ lives; food, shelter, access to water, health services, education and vocational training, but they remain confined and stateless.

Malini Morzaria
Regional Information Officer
Delhi
Autumn 2008

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Middle East nations condemn Israel’s Gaza invasion

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by Samer al-Atrush

CAIRO (AFP) – Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip was roundly condemned across the Middle East on Sunday, with Egypt also accusing the UN Security Council of failing to act quickly to resolve the crisis.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Israel’s incursion into the impoverished territory on Saturday night came in “brazen defiance” of international calls to end the fighting.

“The Security Council‘s silence and its failure to take a decision to stop Israel’s aggression since it began was interpreted by Israel as a green light,” he said in a statement as Israeli forces rumbled into Gaza.

A Jordanian government spokesman said the invasion “will have dangerous repercussions and negative effects on the region’s security and stability” and called for an immediate ceasefire, state-news agency Petra reported.

Foreign Minister Salah Bashir met ambassadors from the UN Security Council five permanent members and urged speedy “international action to end these attacks.”

His statement came after Arab League chief Amr Mussa accused the UN Security Council of “ignoring” the crisis in Gaza.

Israel sent tanks and infantry into the impoverished Palestinian enclave on Saturday night after eight days of air strikes and naval bombardment killed more than 485 Palestinians. Rockets fired by Gaza militants have killed four Israelis.

The Security Council announced after the ground operations began that it would hold a special meeting on Gaza. But after four hours of consultation, its members failed to agree on a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The US has said it would not support a ceasefire that would return the “status quo” in Gaza, which the Islamist movement Hamas violently took over in 2007.

An Arab diplomat familiar with the talks at the Security Council blamed the US for blocking a resolution calling for a ceasefire.

“It’s clearly the Americans, it doesn’t require genius,” he said, adding that the US had blocked a resolution because “the Israelis still need some time to finish their operations.”

Washington said it would reject a Libyan proposal for a resolution calling on both sides to abide by a ceasefire because it did not explicitly mention Hamas rocket attacks.

Turkey, one of Israel’s few Muslim allies, urged the UN to take the necessary steps to bring the situation under control and condemned the “unacceptable” offensive.

“We condemn and find it unacceptable that Israel has begun a ground operation (in Gaza) in spite of the warnings and reactions from the international community,” said a foreign ministry statement.

“It is obvious that escalating the tension will not benefit anyone.”

Hamas fired dozens of rockets into Israel after an Egyptian-mediated six-month truce expired on December 19. The militant group says it will not support a ceasefire as long as Israel continues to blockade the coastal strip.

Hamas’ regional ally Iran said in response to Israel’s ground operations that Gaza would become a “cemetery” for Israel.

Gulf newspapers slammed Washington’s “protection of Israel” at the UN which has “prevented any international dissuasive (action) and the possibility of imposing a ceasefire,” wrote the Emirati Al-Bayan daily.

Saudi’s Al-Riyadh attacked US President George W. Bush “who started his first presidential mandate with wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and ends his (White House) days welcoming the spilling of Palestinian blood.”

The Israeli press backed the ground offensive and its “limited” objectives, but looked to diplomatic ways of ending the conflict at the appropriate time.

“This is not a ‘ground operation’ but a real war, a war to defend our homes and lives,” wrote the mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot.

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Congo rebels capture border town, refugees flee

151108-congo1
By Joe Bavier

KINSHASA, Nov 27 (Reuters) – Congolese Tutsi rebels took control of the eastern town of Ishasha on Congo’s border with Uganda, the U.N. said on Thursday, sending thousands of Congolese civilians streaming into Uganda.

Fresh fighting in east Congo has added urgency to calls for more international peacekeepers to be deployed immediately.

“There was fighting,” said Madnodje Mounoubai, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo (MONUC). “They attacked, they took it,” he said, referring to rebels loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said 13,000 refugees, 10,000 of them on Thursday alone, had crossed the border at and around Ishasha in 48 hours. Most had walked for several days to escape fighting and rebel attacks on their villages in the Rutshuru district of Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province.

“The rebels attacked my village. They killed all the women, even pregnant women,” said one 20-year-old refugee, Jean, in comments cited by UNHCR officials, who were seeking to transport the refugees to a safe settlement in Uganda far from the border.

“I’m exhausted. I just want to be safe,” Jean added.

Humanitarian agencies, struggling to help a quarter of a million civilians displaced by fighting since August in east Congo, are worried that a United Nations plan to send troop reinforcements may come too late to prevent more bloodshed.

The U.N. Security Council has approved an increase in the stretched peacekeeping force from 17,000 to just over 20,000 to try to definitively end fighting between Tutsi rebels and government forces and their militia allies.

But it could take months for the U.N. reinforcements to be mustered and to arrive. The Congolese government also wants Indian troops to be excluded because it considers them unreliable, diplomats in Kinshasa said.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a statement calling for a concerted international push to establish peace in Congo and stop atrocities against those caught up in the fighting, especially women.

“Recent reports suggest an escalation of sexual violence in its most brutal forms, committed by all sides in the conflict, including soldiers belonging to the national army,” she said ahead of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s emergency session on Congo, scheduled for Friday in Geneva.

She also suggested illicit trade in Congo’s mineral riches may be fuelling the continued fighting, saying: “This has to be exposed and comprehensively addressed.”

Congo’s objections to Indian troops emerged as world figures appealed to the European Union to help provide more security for east Congo, where Nkunda’s troops have gained territory since August.

“While the U.N. has authorised an additional 3,000 troops it will likely take between three and six months to deploy them. The Congolese people cannot wait,” they said in a public letter.

They said the EU could send one of its standing battle groups to help protect civilians which the U.N. says have suffered massacres, executions, rapes and torture by both sides.

Evoking previous massacres in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, the figures, among them Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and billionaire investor George Soros, said world leaders had vowed never to let such atrocities happen again.

“It needs your personal political leadership to … ensure ‘never again’ really means never again,” their letter said.

INDIAN PEACEKEEPERS INVESTIGATED

In their objections to the Indian peacekeepers, Congolese officials described them as “an instrument of destabilisation” but sought to minimise the diplomatic sensitivity of their move by trying not to mention India in public statements. “They mean the Indians, it’s well known,” a western diplomat told Reuters.

Some Indian peacekeepers in Congo have been investigated for sexual misconduct and illicit gold and arms trading, and have also faced accusations of showing support for Nkunda.

Belgium said on Wednesday it could contribute to a possible European force in its former colony, though there have been doubts about such an idea for Congo among some EU members.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/) (Writing by Pascal Fletcher)

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Need for aid rises as insurgents reach outskirts of Somali capital

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By Derek Kilner

Nairobi- The International Committee of the Red Cross announced that it is increasing food and other assistance for over 400,000 people displaced by violence in south and central Somalia. As Derek Kilner reports from VOA’s East Africa bureau in Nairobi, the announcement comes as Islamist insurgents continue an advance towards the capital, Mogadishu.

The ICRC’s Somalia relief coordinator, Mathias Frese, said the organization will have tripled its food aid to Somalia from 2007 to 2008. The recent escalation in fighting, along with continued drought, have worsened what U.N. officials had already called Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis.

On Thursday, Islamist insurgents entered Elasha, a settlement of displaced people fewer than 20 kilometers from Mogadishu.

Resident Jama’a Abdirahman told VOA that the Islamists left as Ethiopian troops, retreating from the town of Afgoye to the west, passed through on their way to Mogadishu. He said that members of the government militia that had controlled the town had returned, but that members of the radical Islamist al-Shabab militia, as well as fighters from other Islamist factions were still in the area.

On Wednesday al-Shabab took control of the port town of Merka, to the south. The transitional government, backed by Ethiopian troops, remains in control of Mogadishu, and the town of Baidoa, where the parliament is based, and has soldiers in Afgoye. But insurgents now hold much of the rest of south and central Somalia.

Ethiopia had agreed to withdraw its forces from urban centers as part of a peace agreement with a moderate faction of the insurgency, but the rebel advance may change those plans. If Ethiopian troops remain, however, their presence will continue to be a major grievance and rallying cry for the insurgency.

Meanwhile, the escalation in fighting has increased the numbers of Somalis fleeing across the border into Kenya. The U.N. refugee agency has echoed calls from Human Rights Watch, for increased attention to the influx. Emmanuel Nyabera, a spokesman for UNHCR in Nairobi, said the organization had asked the Kenyan government to construct a fourth refugee camp at Dadaab, along the border.

“We are extremely concerned about the situation in Dadaab refugee camp, because the camp is extremely overcrowded. The three camps that were supposed to accommodate around 90,000 refugees are currently accommodating around 224,000 people,” said Nyabera. “We are currently receiving around 6,000 new asylum seekers every month. We are not in a position to give services to these people in a dignified manner.”

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR – OIC should do something to stop the fighting.  African Union should do more in preventing the war from escalate into uncontrollable situation.

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Angelina Jolie ends Afghan visit with call for more returnee support

KABUL, Afghanistan, October 24 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency’s Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie has concluded her first visit to Afghanistan, where she saw both the successes and the difficulties of return and reintegration. She saw first hand the country’s difficult humanitarian circumstances and called for more international support to meet critical needs during the coming winter.

Jolie’s two-day trip comes ahead of an international conference on return and reintegration to be held in Kabul next month. Co-hosted by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNHCR, the event will bring government ministries and donors together to see how the country’s absorption capacity can best be strengthened to support further repatriation.

The award-winning American actress is familiar with UNHCR’s Afghan operation, having twice visited Pakistan in recent years to see Afghan refugees there. But the visit on Wednesday and Thursday was her first to Afghanistan to see the reintegration challenges inside the country.

“The courage, resilience and quiet dignity of returnee families rebuilding their lives against the kind of adversity few of us can imagine shows the human spirit at its best,” Jolie said after visiting a number of sites.

On Wednesday, Jolie travelled to Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan where almost 850,000, or 20 percent, of all returnees to Afghanistan have repatriated since 2002. Such numbers have placed huge pressures on the limited land availability in one of Afghanistan’s most densely populated provinces.

The Goodwill Ambassador visited the Lower Sheikh Mesri settlement site, where some 1,400 returnee families have been living in makeshift shelters and tattered tents. The site’s residents outlined the difficulties of finding employment and the limited access to basic social services such as health and education.

Jolie also witnessed the problems encountered by returnees following the summer closure of Jalozai refugee village in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. More than 750 families originating from the adjacent Afghan province of Kunar are living on barren land in northern Nangarhar. They have been unable to return to their homes due to insecurity, land disputes and lack of economic opportunities.

“In some ways we were better off in Pakistan. Life is very difficult here. But it means everything to me today to live among my people in my home country despite these problems,” said an elderly returnee, Hashim Khan.

On Thursday, Jolie saw similar issues of landlessness and poverty among returnees and internally displaced people (IDP) living in poor housing conditions in Kabul. The Afghan capital’s population has increased threefold since 2001 to an estimated 4.5 million. Refugees and IDPs account for approximately 30 percent of this increase. They compete for jobs with other city inhabitants and the many rural migrants who have come to Kabul in search of economic opportunities.

On her Kabul field trip, the actress visited a site of 18 returnee families who have been squatting in public buildings for several years, unable to return and settle in their province of origin because of poverty.

More than 5 million Afghans have returned home since the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001, over 4.2 million of them with UNHCR’s assistance. But the growing incidence of homelessness is a clear sign that the return of the remaining 3 million registered Afghans still in exile in Pakistan and Iran will be a sharper challenge.

Whilst returnees have contributed significantly to the economy with capital and skills acquired abroad, the huge numbers have stretched the capacities of the Afghan authorities. “Afghanistan has been struggling to absorb these massive returns. It’s understandable. It’s one of the largest population movements in recent history,” said Jolie, as she wrapped up her visit on Thursday.

Noting that the long-term commitment of the international community will be critical to the country’s recovery and the prospects for future repatriation, the actress also stressed the need for an increase in humanitarian assistance to the population ahead of the coming winter.

The November conference in Kabul aims to build agreement on how return and reintegration can be sustained by increased bilateral, regional, and international cooperation. Traditionally, refugees are assisted by humanitarian aid budgets. But these have limited impact on sustainable reintegration. So an important objective will be to advance the incorporation of return and reintegration issues more systematically into the planning and budgeting of national development programmes in key areas and sectors.

By Mohammad Nader Farhad
in Kabul, Afghanistan

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