Pakistan donates 5 million to UN refugee agency to assist Afghan refugees

The agency has appealed for an additional $15 million to bolster its voluntary repatriation and integration programme, and is “grateful to the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for this generous and timely contribution towards this effort,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva.The country’s Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind will present High Commissioner António Guterres with a check for approximately $5 million in Geneva tomorrow.Separately, Pakistan has also pledged an additional $1 million for the registration of Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan, and their de-registration upon returning to their country.Over five million Afghan refugees have repatriated, 3.2 million coming from Pakistan and 1.8 from Iran. However, last year, repatriation of Afghans dropped significantly, with 133,000 returning home from Pakistan and 5,000 from Iran.“UNHCR believes that the main factors behind the decline in returns are the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the challenging economic and social conditions inside the country, and the long exile of the remaining 3 million Afghans, half of whom were born outside Afghanistan,” Mr. Redmond said.To jumpstart the return of refugees this year, the agency – in close consultations with Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan – has increased the grant given to those repatriating from $60 to $100 per person.In another move meant to reinvigorate the repatriation process, between 1 March and 15 April, Afghans who did not register during the recent mandatory drive in Pakistan but still wished to return to their homeland were still eligible to receive the increased assistance package. As a result, over 200,000 unregistered Afghan refugees went home with the additional funds.Due to a higher than expected number of unregistered people repatriating, UNHCR launched its appeal for an extra $15 million, pushing its total budget for its return programme to $99 million. To date, UNHCR has only received a third of the necessary funding. 8 May 2007The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced today that it will receive $5 million from Pakistan to help Afghan refugees return to their homeland. read more

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