Since 01 January, UNHCR assisted the return of 513 Afghan refugees from Iran (454), Pakistan (16) and other countries (43) under its facilitated voluntary repatriation programme. UNHCR, as of 04 March 2020, temporarily suspended the voluntary return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, Iran and other countries as a precautionary measure linked to COVID-19. Voluntary repatriation from Iran resumed as of 30 April. More recently, UNHCR, in close collaboration with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan initiated preparations to resume the facilitated voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan as of 10th August. UNHCR in Pakistan will process returning refugees on Mondays and Tuesdays and they subsequently will be able to cross through Torkham and Chaman/Spin Boldak crossing points on the same days. Once in Afghanistan, returnees will receive a cash grant covering transportation and initial reintegration (on average USD 250 per person) and other services at one of three encashment centers (located in Nangarhar, Kabul, and Kandahar). This working arrangement will be revised as necessary.
According to MoRR/IOM, during the weeks of 26 July – 01 August and 02 - 08 August, the total number of undocumented returnees from Iran was 14,508 (8,890 spontaneous returnees and 5,618 deportees) and 10,251 (5,616 spontaneous returnees and 4,635 deportees) respectively. During the same period, the total return from Pakistan was 60 (30 each week, all spontaneous returnees). Since 01 January, the total number of undocumented returnees is 431,595 individuals, including 429,632 from Iran (292,931 spontaneous returnees and 136,701 deportees) and 1,963 from Pakistan (1,839 spontaneous returnees and 124 deportees).
On 22 June 2020, the Government of Pakistan announced that Torkham and Spin Boldak crossing points will open six days a week (Sunday – Friday) for commercial purposes. Pedestrian movement of stranded Afghans and Pakistanis is officially permitted once per week (Saturday).
During the reporting period, the Torkham and Spin Boldak crossing points were opened for pedestrian movements on the following days:
Torkham: - On 29 and 30 July, 1,029 and 1,065 stranded Afghans crossed into Afghanistan, while 254 and 390 stranded Pakistanis returned to Pakistan.
On 08 August, 5,864 stranded Afghans crossed through Torkham into Afghanistan, while 1,302 stranded Pakistanis returned to Pakistan.
After almost two months’ closure, the border was re-opened on 29 July for few hours and 2,308 stranded Afghans crossed into Afghanistan and 3,104 stranded Pakistanis returned to Pakistan.
On 04 and 08 August the border was re-opened for pedestrian movements, following deadly clashes on 30 July, and a total of 20,239 stranded Afghans crossed into Afghanistan while 23,075 stranded Pakistani returned to Pakistan.
Due to Eid holidays (30 July - 02 August), this update covers two weeks (26 July – 08 August 2020).