Afghanistan: Returnee Crisis Situation Report No. 4 (as of 29 December 2016)
Since January 2016, more than 614,225 undocumented returnees (244,125) and registered refugees (370,102) have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan. Of these, 93% (571,747) have returned since July.1
In the last two weeks, no registered refugees have returned as the winter pause in UNHCR’s repatriation program takes full effect. Undocumented returns have also slowed, with 2,032 returning in the past week.
Further analysis of a HEAT assessment of 1,580 undocumented returnee families in Kabul indicates that 434 families – 85 families less than initially indicated – require NFI, winterisation and WASH support. This includes 92 families in need of safe drinking water, 153 families in need of sanitation facilities and 50 families in need of winterised tents. An additional 196 undocumented returnee families have also recently been assessed, of which 157 have been identified as in need of assistance and supported with NFIs and in-kind food and fuel packages.
Between 2 November and 14 December 2016, IOM interviewed the heads of households of 242 undocumented returnee families at Zero Point and the Torkham Transit Centre (TC) concerning their livelihood, socio-economic and reintegration needs. The survey found that over half of all interviewed households reported earnings in Pakistan between 300-500 Pakistani Rupees (PKR) per day (USD 3-5), followed by 14% earning between 501-700 PKR (USD 5 – 6.6) and 10% earning less than 300 PKR/day (USD 3). Additionally, 49% of households indicated shelter as their primary need, followed by financial support, land and help starting a business.
Assessments of the Khanakai Qasmabad land allocation site in Nangarhar province are ongoing with the Mine Risk Education and Explosive Ordnance Disposal team (HALO) confirming that there is no reported presence of contamination and risk from ERW/mines. Additionally, the Directorate of Urban Housing and Development (DUDH) has started the topographic survey (contour mapping and demarcation) to allocate 600 hectares for returnees and IDPs on the site, while the geophysical report has confirmed the availability of groundwater.
Previous reports that the land was disputed have also been found to be false.
The Afghanistan Flash Appeal has received pledged and confirmed contributions totaling USD 91.2 million against overall requirements of USD 152 million.
As it stands, the Refugee & Returnee Chapter has received the highest proportion of confirmed contributions at USD 46.7 million (58%), followed by the FSAC and Protection clusters with USD 26.5 million (33%) and USD 5 million (6%) respectively.
The winter pause of UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation programme took effect on 15 December 2016 with the closure of their Encashment Centres (EC) in all locations bar Herat where it remains open to assist returnees from Iran.
Consequently, the number of registered refugees returning has significantly declined—only 1,579 people were assisted in the last week of November, four times fewer than in the previous week (8,348). The number of undocumented returnees has also decreased, albeit not to the same extent as Zero Point and the IOM TC have remained open. Humanitarian response, including follow-up needs assessments in areas of high return, is ongoing.
A final version of the National Unity Government’s Draft Policy Framework for Returnees and IDPs has been prepared aiming to minimise the time returnees and IDPs spend in transitional arrangements. The framework is built on nine basic operating principles, including: the need to fast-track the provision of identity documentation; settlement based on voluntariness and proper identification of suitable and viable land allocation sites according to established technical criteria. In mid-December, ARAZI accepted to incorporate the draft law on the registration of urban properties (occupancy certificates) as a separate chapter to the Land Management Law to increase security of tenure for displaced and returning populations through the provision of occupancy certificates for informal settlements. The law will be deliberated by the Cabinet by the end year and put to Parliament in January.
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