Countries agree on $1.9B Afghan refugee strategy

May 3, 2012, 4:33 PM

Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) – A $1.9 billion plan to help rebuild the lives of almost 9 million former and current Afghan refugees gained international backing Thursday, as officials prepare for the impending U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Switzerland and the United Nations appeared at a conference in Geneva to tout the plan, which will initially focus on providing schools and jobs and meeting other basic needs for the 5.7 million Afghans who have returned to their homeland.

The meeting was not a donor conference, however, and officials acknowledged that raising the funds will take some effort.

“We have identified 48 sites in Afghanistan as the priority sites where we can help with the returned refugees, providing them with basic needs, health, employment,” said Jamaher Anwary, Afghanistan’s minister of refugees and repatriation. “It depends on the support of the international community.”

The two-day conference, co-hosted by the U.N. refugee agency and Switzerland this week, was held as the United States winds down its presence in Afghanistan, and Afghans worry about what happens when American and other NATO troops turn security over to the Afghan army and police.

Tens of thousands of Afghans each year have been crossing their nation’s border in both directions _ returning home, or fleeing to seek asylum abroad. Many Afghans have turned to a thriving human smuggling industry to get themselves or their relatives out of the country.

After the 2001 U.S.-led military intervention that toppled the Taliban, some 5.7 million Afghan refugees returned home to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran _ roughly 25 percent of the country’s total population.

The vast majority of those came back in the first five years, but the numbers have since dwindled, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Afghans topped the list of asylum claimants to the world’s richest countries in 2011, according to the U.N. refugee agency. More than 35,700 Afghans asked for asylum last year, a one-third increase compared to 2010.

Some 2 million Afghans remain in Pakistan, and 1 million in Iran, and the plan also is intended to help resettle those who wish to return home.

In Pakistan, about half of the Afghan refugees were born outside of Afghanistan and have no property to return to there. But in Iran, economic challenges have led many Afghans to try to return home.

Shaukat Ullah, Pakistan’s minister for states and frontier regions, said his nation aims to voluntarily resettle all Afghans in Pakistan to their homeland by the end of this year. He declined to elaborate on what might happen once the deadline passes.

“We should consider this conference as a starting point of an international consensus for an orderly and safe, voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees,” he said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who reportedly died in prison on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, i...

Associated Press

Alexei Navalny, galvanizing opposition leader and Putin’s fiercest foe, died in prison, Russia says

Alexei Navalny, the fiercest foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died Friday while incarcerated, the country's prison agency said.

12 days ago

Britain's King Charles III and Queen Camilla leave The London Clinic in central London, Monday, Jan...

Associated Press

Britain’s King Charles III has cancer and is receiving treatment

Britain's King Charles III has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and has begun treatment, Buckingham Palace announced Monday.

23 days ago

A resident flees an encroaching forest fire in Vina del Mar, Chile, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. Officia...

Associated Press

At least 46 reported dead in Chile as forest fires move into densely populated central areas

Intense forest fires burning around a densely populated area of central Chile have caused at least 46 deaths, Chile's pesident said Saturday.

24 days ago

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with a payload including two lunar rovers from Japan and the United Arab ...

Associated Press

Unmanned Japanese spacecraft successfully makes soft landing on moon

Japan became the fifth country in history to reach the moon when one of its unmanned spacecrafts successfully landed on the lunar surface.

1 month ago

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

3 months ago

Palestinians leave their homes following Israeli bombardment on Gaza City, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (...

Associated Press

Israeli airstrikes crush apartments in Gaza refugee camp, as ground troops battle Hamas militants

A flurry of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday on a refugee camp near Gaza City leveled apartment buildings, leaving craters where they once stood.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Countries agree on $1.9B Afghan refugee strategy