IOM press briefing notes 11 Mar 2003: Afghanistan

Spokesperson: Christopher Lom

AFGHANISTAN - Herat IDPs Return to Villages for Spring Planting - Over 3,500 people have returned home with IOM convoys from Herat's Maslakh and Shaidayee IDP camps during the past month and more are expected to follow with the onset of the spring planting season.

The return of the 860 families to ten different districts in Badghis (80%) and Herat (20%) provinces in February was closely coordinated with local authorities, UN agencies and NGOs operating in Herat and Badghis.

Families leaving the camps receive an IOM reintegration package including a tent, a kerosene lantern, soap and an onward transportation grant of US$ 6.6.=A0 WFP provides each returnee family with 100 kgs of wheat. Other agencies provide plastic sheeting, buckets, agricultural and shelter tool kits, hygienic cloth, family kits and high protein biscuits.

Bad roads in western Afghanistan mean that travel can be painfully slow and many returnees have to overnight in IOM transit centers in Qala-e-Naw, Bala Murgab, Gormach and Chest-e-Sharif. The centres, funded by ECHO, the EU humanitarian agency, also provide overnight shelter for refugees returning to Afghanistan from Iran.

Since February 2002 IOM Herat has helped over 100,000 internally displaced Afghan to return home.

For more information, please contact Julia Hartlieb at IOM Kabul. Email:

USA - UNIFEM / IOM Sign Cooperation Accord - IOM and UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand their cooperation.

The agreement, signed by IOM Deputy Director General Ndioro Ndiaye and UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, focuses on cooperation in areas including the fight against human trafficking, particularly in women and girls, the special needs of women in post-conflict situations, and the promotion of the rights of female labour migrants.