Afghanistan: First internally displaced persons (IDPs) convoy leaves Herat for Badghis

News and Press Release
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UNHCR Kabul Press Information, 5 May 2008

Questions are attributable to Mohammad Nadir Farhad, UNHCR Public Information Section, Kabul, Afghanistan.

KABUL, 5 May (UNHCR) - The first convoy of returning IDPs this year left Herat province for Bala Murghab district of Badghis province last week. More than 80 families (over 500 individuals) returned to their homes after fleeing from violence and conflict nine months ago. The return operation was jointly organised by the Department of Refugees and Repatriation, UNHCR, WFP and IOM.

Altogether some 400 families fled to Herat from Badghis following fighting in early 2007. Since that time they have been living in public buildings in Herat city. As other families from the same group have expressed the wish to go back to their homes, it is hoped that this first convoy of 2008 will encourage further returns over the coming months.

The returning families in addition to receiving free transportation up to their final destination received non-food items which include blankets, jerry cans, plastic tarpaulin and soap. They upon arrival will also receive wheat flour, lentils, cooking oil and salt from WFP.

Beginning this year, Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation-supported by the international community-prioritized finding durable solution for the currently displaced families across the country prioritizing the southern provinces ( Helmand, Kandahar) and Western (Herat). There is already a National IDP task force and two regional IDP Task forces composed of UNHCR and government officials, one in the west and one in the south established to look into durable solutions for the IDPs.

Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation and UNHCR are in the process of completing a national profiling of displaced families throughout the country so that solutions can be addressed for different groups and to ensure most vulnerable will be protected. UNHCR will assist the Ministry with the development of a National Strategy to address IDP concerns aimed at finding more predictable solutions to their plight. This would be by and large a long-term strategy for IDPs.

There is an estimated 150,000 internally displaced people in Afghanistan, including some 111,000 in the southern provinces.