1,027 AFGHAN REFUGEES RETURNED TO AFGHANISTAN
549,769 UNDOCUMENTED AFGHANS RETURNED FROM IRAN AND PAKISTAN
27,154 INTERVIEWS WITH RETURNEES FROM IRAN AND PAKISTAN
Since 01 January, UNHCR assisted the return of 1,027 Afghan refugees from Iran (598), Pakistan (380) and other countries (49) including Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation, under its facilitated voluntary repatriation programme. After a temporary suspension of voluntary repatriation between 04 March and 29 April due to COVID-19, UNHCR resumed its facilitated voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Iran as of 30 April and from Pakistan and other countries as of 10 August.
Refugee returnees receive a multi-purpose cash grant (on average USD 250 per person) and other services at Encashment Centers (ECs) located in Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, and Nangarhar provinces. UNHCR’s cash grants to refugee returnees are intended to prevent, reduce, and respond to immediate protection risks and vulnerabilities upon return to Afghanistan.
According to MoRR/IOM, during the weeks of 13 - 19 September, the total number of undocumented returnees from Iran was 21,781 (11,198 deportees and 10,583 spontaneous returnees) and from Pakistan was 420 (368 spontaneous returnees and 52 deportees). Since 01 January, the total number of undocumented returnees is 549,769 individuals, including 544,999 from Iran (349,932 spontaneous returnees and 195,067 deportees) and 4,770 from Pakistan (4,478 spontaneous returnees and 292 deportees).
During the week, regular population movements (over 300,000 individuals in both directions) continued through Spin Boldak to/from Afghanistan. Torkham border was opened for pedestrian movement on 19 September, on which date a total of 7,789 stranded Afghans crossed into Afghanistan and 1,685 stranded Pakistanis crossed into Pakistan.
Since 21 August, Spin Boldak crossing point has been open seven days a week for pedestrians and commercial trucks. In addition, as of 25 August, Torkham border has been open on Mondays and Tuesdays for refugee returnee movements to Afghanistan, while it will continue to be open once a week (on Saturdays) for undocumented returnees and other pedestrian movements.
During the week, UNHCR’s partner at Islam Qala interviewed several Afghan deportees who wanted to go to a third country from Iran. Some of them alleged that they were injured by gunshots while they were attempting to irregularly cross the border into Turkey, and were handed over to the Iranian authorities, who deported them to Afghanistan after they were treated for their injuries.