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Afghan Refugees Outpace those Returning -U.N. | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A student looks between security officials as UNHCR assistant High Commissioner George Okoth-Obbo speaks to Afghan elders at an Afghan refugee camp school in Kalabat

KABUL, April 17 – The slow trickle of Afghan refugees getting back home is at remarkable lows, dwarfed by the multi thousands that are currently being moved along by the economic peril and ongoing fighting as stated by United Nations officials.

It’s estimated that about 2,200 refugees this year have went back their way to Afghanistan, same as remarked back in 2014, when the lowest number of returnees was witnessed since the start of a voluntary repatriation process in 2001. “It is much lower than we would have expected,” said U.N. Assistant High Commissioner for Operations George Okoth-Obbo, who visited Kabul on Sunday as part of a regional trip.

There are over than 200,000 Afghans ran away to Europe in 2015, according to UNHCR figures, and unmentioned others pursued sanctuary in Pakistan, Iran, and within Afghanistan itself, Okoth-Obbo said.

Noting that there are about 2.4 million Afghan refugees who remain in foreign countries, Okoth-Obbo stated that the Afghan refugee crisis is not only influencing Europe, where only in 2016, 80,000 Afghans have been obliged under circumstances to leave their homes, joining more than a million others currently internally displaced within the country.

The international community was urged by U.N. officials to raise a hand and work with the Afghan government to try to support and reintegrate refugees and other emigrants so they can profit from government programs and not count on foreign aid.

The U.N.’s top refugee official in Afghanistan, Maya Ameratunga said that as the international attention emphases on Afghans on the move to Europe, it is important not to forget that the biggest number and the most vulnerable displaced populations in need are right here in their home country and in the regional neighbourhood.

Last year, some 60,000 Afghans voluntarily returned home, Okoth-Obbo said. That was unusually high as Afghan refugees in Pakistan faced increased “harassment, extortion, and other push factors” by officials in the wake of terrorist attacks, according to the U.N.