Countries, IDPs Caseload and Movements and Reintegration Activities
02 Mar 2002 - 29 February 2008
Contents of this Report
All the information in this report refers to Afghan refugees all over the glob; assisted Return Refugees received assistance from UNHCR since beginning of 2002 till end of Jan 2008. In addition to assisted returnees, information on Spontaneous and Forcible returnees as well as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Caseload and Movement and reintegration assistance by UNHCR Afghanistan, such as Shelter, Water Supply and Extremely Vulnerable Individuals (EVIs) Programs are included in this report.
1. Refugee population
Since the beginning of the Soviet invasion, the start of the civil war in 1992 (between Mujahideen parties) as well as during the Taliban regime more than six million Afghans fled Afghanistan for Pakistan, Iran and other countries. For decades Afghans constituted the world's single largest refugee population. At the height of the exodus, up to 6 million Afghans were living outside of Afghanistan, mainly in Pakistan and Iran, but also scattered in 70 other countries across the globe. Based on UNHCR annual statistical report (2006) the majority of Afghan refugees were living in Pakistan (2.15 million) and Iran (0.9 million). The following countries also host considerable number of Afghan refugees: UK (23,069), Germany (21,879), Netherlands (21,357), Canada (14,419) and USA (13,242). Some 9,000 Afghan refugees live in India, some 7,000 in Australia and up to 710 in Turkmenistan while since Jan up to end Jan 2008 a total of 365,536 Afghan Refugees returned to Afghanistan (with UNHCR assistance) from the countries mentioned above however, still there is a large number (over 2.99 million) of Afghan Refugees living in different countries such as Pakistan (1.9 million), Iran (0.9 million), India (9,447), Uzbekistan (1,415) in Asia, United Kingdom (22,651), Germany (21,829), Netherlands (21,329), Denmark (6,302), Sweden (4,267), Norway (4,056), Austria (3,661), Hungary (2,354) in Europe, Egypt (31) in Africa, Canada (14,419), USA (13,242) in America and Australia (7,904) in Australia.
1.1) Refugees in Pakistan
Before March 2005, ascertaining the number of Afghans living in Pakistan was always at best a calculated guess. Over two decades of war and conflict had forced millions of Afghans out of their homes into Pakistan. Similarly a large number had also repatriated to Afghanistan during different phases following the Soviet pull-out in 1989. The vast majority of Afghans who fled the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan since 1979 and who were considered prime-facie refugees fleeing conflict and persecution were living in refugee camps in the North West Frontier Province and Balochistan Province. Over 2 million Afghans repatriated in the 1990s. However, the conflict between rival Mujahideen factions and the Taliban rule in Afghanistan also caused population movements back into Pakistan during this decade. The dynamics of the Afghan population movements to and from Pakistan changed yet again after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 with over 3 million Afghans repatriating under the auspices of the UNHCR-assisted voluntary repatriation program since 2002. Afghan populations have historically been extremely mobile in the sub-region, and this dynamic of cross-border mobility and migration has related to work and socio-economic opportunities fostered by traditionally close ethno-linguistic, religious and cultural affinities. From 15 Oct 2006 until 15 Feb 2007 a registration exercise started by Government of Pakistan and UNHCR Office in Pakistan in order to figure out the number of Afghan Refugees living in Pakistan the result of that exercise showed that the majority of those living in Pakistan are from the Eastern Region (28.4%) particularly from Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman Provinces, the Northern Region (25.7%) particularly from Kunduz, Baghlan and Faryab Provinces and the Central Region (24.7%) mainly from Kabul, Logar, Ghazni and Parwan Provinces. The next highest populations of Afghans living in Pakistan are from the Southern Region (10.7%) mainly refugees from Kandahar and Hilmand Provinces and the Southeastern Region (9.2%) mainly from Paktya Province. Refugees whose place of origin is the Western Region (0.4%) and the Central Highlands (0.9%) are the minorities among the Afghan Refugees currently living in Pakistan. During the voluntary repatriation program which started from 15 April 2007 a total of 239,064 individuals were returned to Afghanistan up to 31 Oct 2007 which means that still there is 1.9 million Afghan mainly from Eastern, Northern and Central Regions living in Pakistan.
1.2) Refugees in Iran
A registration exercise, AMAYESH-II, aimed to ascertain the number of Afghans living in Iran. The registration results show that the majority of those still living in Iran are from the Northern Region (27.3%) particularly refugees from Samangan, Faryab, Balkh and Badkhshan Provinces, the Central Region (23.3%) particularly refugees from Parwan, Kabul, and Ghazni Provinces and the Western Region (14.0%) mainly refugees from Hirat and Farah Provinces. The next highest populations of Afghans living in Iran are from the Southern Region (7.8%) mainly refugees from Kandahar and Uruzgan Provinces and Central Highland region (6.7%) mainly refugees from Bamyan Province. Refugees whose place of origin is the Eastern (1.4%) and Southeastern Regions (0.6%) are the minorities among the Afghan refugees currently living in Iran. It is worth to bear in mind that almost over 640,000 (half of this number being female) Afghan refugees aging 0-24 registered may have born in Iran (based on AMAYESH-II db) however, we consider their places of origin based on their parents (HoHs) Nationality and places of origin in Afghanistan.