Afghanistan

Fact sheet: U.S. funds support returning Afghan refugees and conflict victims

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The State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) is funding the work of nine non-government organizations (NGOs) in Afghanistan to provide support for returning Afghan refugees, internally displaced persons, and other conflict victims in Afghanistan, according to a fact sheet released January 10.

With contributions topping $13 million, the State Department's PRM Bureau is working with the NGOs to support clinics, purchase building materials for shelter, provide social services to returning refugees and other vulnerable Afghans, and to support income-generating activities.

The NGOs involved in these projects include the Aga Khan Foundation, the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps International, and the Community Housing Foundation, as well as other organizations.

The following fact sheet was issued by the State Department's Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migration:

(begin fact sheet)

U.S.-Funded Projects For Returning Refugees, Internally-Displaced Persons and other Conflict Victims in Afghanistan

This is a detailed list of U.S.-funded projects, which are administered by the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and implemented by non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Church World Service (CWS) - Kabul Assistance to Returning Refugees and their Communities ($679,061)

Church World Service, working through local NGOs, helps 1,874 women in Kabul who are heads of households with income generating activities; at least half of CWS's beneficiaries are returning refugees or IDPs. Under the program, the women are given cash for quilts they sew, and are provided with literacy classes and awareness-raising workshops. CWS distributes the quilts to hospitals and health centers and for use in disaster-relief. This project provides much-needed livelihood and cash-for-work opportunities to one of the most vulnerable groups in Kabul - in a city with an extremely high rate of refugee returns.

Aga Khan Foundation - Bamyan and Baghlan Shelter Provision for Afghan Returnees to Baghlan and Bamyan Provinces ($500,000)

This project provides shelter materials for the construction and rehabilitation of 500 shelters (AKF and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees are funding the construction/rehabilitation of nearly 2,000 additional shelters) in six regions of Baghlan and Bamyan provinces, as well as provide construction training to returning refugees. The targeted population includes vulnerable segments of the population, including female-headed households, the disabled, and the elderly. AKF, its implementing partner, FOCUS, and UNHCR conducted assessments of the likely numbers of returning refugee families to the aforementioned regions, as well as assessments of the remaining housing structures to determine construction needs. The project seeks to ensure that returning refugees - especially vulnerable individuals - have permanent shelter prior to the onset of winter and develop skills and capacity-building through on-the-job training.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) - Herat and Kandahar Rural Rehabilitation to Strengthen Sustainable Return to Western and Southern Afghanistan ($1,199,535)

CRS provides durable shelter solutions and short-term access to cash and seeds in order to meet immediate needs and create opportunities for increasing long-term livelihood opportunities. CRS works closely with local communities to target 7,000 families in rural communities in Herat and Kandahar provinces, with special emphasis on returning families and vulnerable individuals. CRS coordinates with UNHCR and the Afghan government on this project and also works closely with International Catholic Migration Commission in its endeavors.

International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) - Herat and Kandahar Identification and Care of Extremely Vulnerable Persons ($861,334)

ICMC trains social workers to identify and assist returnees (60%) and persons who did not leave (40%) who are particularly vulnerable because they are elderly, ill, belong to an ethnic minority group, or lack resources and/or skills. ICMC provides some of these vulnerable persons (and their families) with urgent care and offers other vulnerable persons economic assistance. ICMC also partners with CRS (see above) by identifying extremely vulnerable individuals and referring them to CRS for the provision of additional assistance..

International Medical Corps - Eastern Afghanistan Health for Afghan Return and Reintegration ($2,819,144)

IMC supports 13 clinics in three provinces in eastern Afghanistan, which IMC, in coordination with UNHCR and the Afghan government, has determined to be areas of high refugee return. In addition, the U.S. funds support IMC's role as health provider to UNHCR's Takhtabaig Voluntary Repatriation Center. Seven of the 13 health clinics would function primarily as maternal and child health care centers. The clinics are locally staffed and include Afghans previously trained in IMC-run clinics in Pakistan.

Shelter for Life-Takhar and Kunduz Winter Assistance Program ($1,181,940)

This Shelter for Life "Winter Assistance Program" provides emergency shelter kits and winter warmth kits to as many as 60,000 vulnerable persons in Takhar and Kunduz provinces. Shelter kits, winter warmth kits, winter fuel and emergency employment will be provided to vulnerable populations in three districts in Kabul, which consist primarily of returnees and a number of low-level government employees. Emergency cash-for-work employment activities in Kabul include hiring workers to repair streets, remove garbage, clean drainage ditches, remove rubble from damaged public buildings, clean and and make minor repairs to existing public buildings, and assist in the installation of shelter and winterization materials for those beneficiaries who are unable to do this for themselves.

Community Housing Foundation - Bamyan and Kabul Afghan Assistance for Durable Repatriation Program ($2,157,662)

CHF International's program in Bamyan and Kabul has, as its primary goal, to assist returnees to earn an income. It does this by a) repairing and reconstructing infrastructure and replenishing herds; b) providing families with shelter kits which will provide protection against the elements and allow repairs to homes; c) improve health by providing safe drinking water and reactivating health clinics; and d) repairing schools. CHF serves a target population of 210,000 repatriated refugees and IDPs in targeted villages in Bamyan and rural Kabul provinces.

International Rescue Committee - Eastern, Central, and Western Afghanistan Reintegration Assistance for Returnees to Afghanistan ($2,500,000)

In the eastern and central parts of Afghanistan, IRC and a local NGO implement agriculture and water projects benefiting an estimated 20,000 returnee families, and IRC channels sub-grants through other local NGOs for other programs, which benefit 8,500 more families. In the west, IRC implements sub-grants to local NGOs for agricultural assistance, education and income generation projects. PRM provides approximately half of the funding for this project, with the remaining funds coming from UNHCR and other sources.

Mercy Corps International--Helmand Support to Stabilize Drought-Displaced and Recent Returnee Communities ($1,494,434)

Mercy Corps seeks to stabilize communities and reduce additional population displacements brought about by drought and insecurity. MCI ensures that water use is prioritized for human consumption and health and hygiene. MCI works with the Afghan authorities, UNHCR and the U.S. refugee coordinator to ensure that the project complements UNHCR's program in anchoring returns in a key area of the country where MCI has already built capacity through its previous projects. From interviews with refugees in Balochistan, MCI believes that the main long-term impediments to returns are the lack of functioning irrigation systems, health care and potable water. To encourage returns to Helmand, the proposed project supports a network of four health clinics begun in previous years; constructs new wells and improves existing water systems through cash-for-work; and supports small-scale agriculture through fruit tree production, poultry raising, and veterinary services. Some parts of Helmand province (although not areas where MCI operates specifically) have been a major source of illicit crops. By providing alternative opportunities for viable livelihoods, the project has the effect of discouraging drug production.

(end fact sheet)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)