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MoRR to hike repatriation grant for refugees to entice massive return

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations (MoRR) intends to increase the amount of return grant for the returning Afghan families with cooperation of the international donors.

The minister of refugees Sayed Husain Aelemi Balkhi told the Wolesi Jirga (WJ) on Monday that increasing the aid package for those Afghan refugees returning from Iran and Pakistan in coordination with international partners is on the cards.

“I have proposed to the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees [UNHCR] and other partners, supporting Afghan refugees, to increase the grant from $200 to around $5,000 per family in order to support the returnees until they find a proper job,” said Balkhi, adding that the proposal was accepted but the exact amount has not been finalized yet.

He said the ministry is engaged in multiple efforts to find funds in this regard because the current amount of the return grant was not sufficient.

Regarding outcomes of his meetings with Pakistani officials during his recent trip to Islamabad, the minister said that Pakistan would not deport Afghan refugees forcefully. Both countries have agreed over voluntary repatriation of the refugees, he added.

Pakistani authorities have deported more than 30,000 refugees through Torkham last month while more than 40 percent of the returnees could not live in their homeland due to lack of facilities, said the minister.

Balkhi said that townships built for the returning families lack basic facilities such as schools, hospitals, potable water and electricity.

He said the UNHCR has no preparation for the returnees. “Therefore, the repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan will be voluntary and gradual, according to the capacity of the Afghan government.”

Balkhi said that he met with representatives of the refugees in different provinces of Pakistan, but those living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province had more grievances.

According to a report provided by Pakistani officials to the Afghan authorities in the meeting, there are more than three million Afghan refugees including 1.5 million unregistered in the neighboring country.

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