10 May 2002
Afghan refugees continue to return homewards. We surpassed the half million mark last Wednesday, and as of today, more than 531,000 Afghans have returned mainly from Pakistan and Iran.
We also continue to help internally displaced Afgans back to their villages. Following a survey in Jalalabad's Hesar Shahi camp last month that found some 17,000 people out of the 24,000 in the camp who want to return, UNHCR has already assisted more than 13,000 of the displaced Afghans in the camp to return to their homes in the east of the country.
Monday we plan to start returning some of the 80,000 displaced Afghans living around the Spin Boldak/Chaman border area southwest of Kandahar. A recent UNHCR survey indicates that some 20,000 people are prepared to return home. Most of the Afghans living in the squalid sites in the border zone arrived earlier this year fleeing the effects of drought and insecurity in the north of Afghanistan.