UNHCR raises return package for Afghan refugees living in Pakistan
QUETTA: The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Pakistan has enhanced return package for the registered Afghan refugees aimed to facilitate the maximum number of families living in camps and urban settlements across the country.
In addition to the amount of $150, the refugees have started receiving enhanced package as two refugee families have returned to their hometowns on Monday from Voluntary Repatriation Center (VRC) Baleli, said UNHCR Balochistan chapter official Javeria Tareen.
She added that since January 2012 to present, UNHCR helped as many as 15,532 individuals of 3,179 families for their return to Afghanistan from Balochistan.
Moreover, she said that each Afghan refugee family, holding Proof of Registration (POR) cards, voluntarily returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan during the months of November and December 2012 has been offered an enhanced return package by UNHCR Pakistan.
The package includes non-food items (jerry cans, heavy duty plastic buckets, soap, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, thermal fleece blankets, kitchen set, plastic tarpaulins, quilts and sanitary cloth) and free transportation from the Voluntary Repatriation Centre (VRC) to the Encashment Centres in Afghanistan.
As many as 559,785 Afghan refugees returned from Balochistan since 2002, she said while giving the details about the number of refugees returned hometowns during the repatriation operation since 2012.
She also added that about 352,610 registered Afghan refugees were still living in settled refugees villages and urban areas in the province.
Jamila, 55, one of the beneficiaries from an Afghan refugee family who received enhanced package from VRC Baleli, Balochistan said: “She was very happy on her return and expressed gratitude that UNHCR was helping the poor Afghan refugees in Balochistan”.
Woman refugees living in Pakistan for the last 22 years further said that the recent package would help the Afghan refugees who are willing to go back to their native hometowns as the majority could not afford the transportation charges.
Ahmed Khan, 28, member of another returning family at VRC Baleli, Balochistan narrated his story; 15 months back he met with an accident in which his friend died and he survived but his arms and leg bones were broken in many pieces.
A man, tailor by profession said: “I am repatriating to Afghanistan because I am unable to work due to my health condition and after repatriation I will avail UNHCR Health Assistance”.
UNHCR Pakistan would share the health assistance report with Afghanistan in advance so that the refugee after repatriating to Afghanistan receives the Health Assistance by UNHCR Afghanistan, Tareen said.
Furthermore, she added that special one-time offer of Assistance for Voluntary Returns will be available only until 31 December 2012.
However, UNHCR’s Voluntary Repatriation operation will continue after 2012 with the standard assistance, she added.