Practice Relating to Rule 132. Return of Displaced Persons
Section B. Measures to facilitate return and reintegration
In 1997, in identical letters to the UN Secretary-General and to the President of the UN Security Council, Afghanistan called upon the UN “to immediately intervene to prepare the circumstances allowing all civilians who have been deported and forcibly displaced to return to their homes”.
In 2009, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Afghanistan stated:
261. Between 2002 and 2008, UNHCR, in cooperation with the MoRR [Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations], has facilitated the voluntary return and reintegration of 4,291,302 refugees (2,247,891 males (53 per cent) males and 2,026,733 (47 per cent) females) mainly from Pakistan and Iran. Twenty-eight per cent are children under the age of 18 years … Another 1,302,136 Afghans have returned spontaneously with 977,647 forcibly returned from Pakistan and Iran. From 2002 to November 2008, UNHCR and its partners have identified 4,880 unaccompanied returnee and forcibly returned children who have been reintegrated with their families. Unaccompanied refugee children approaching UNHCR offices in countries hosting Afghans seeking voluntary repatriation are assisted to return safely only after their families are traced inside Afghanistan.
262. Refugee children returning to the country have the same rights and benefits as other Afghan children. The services may include housing assistance to returnees’ families in their original place of residence, humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families, job opportunities, accommodation, legal support, and education for school age children.
267. In 2002, a MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] was signed between the GoA [Government of Afghanistan], UNAMA [United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan], and UNHCR giving UNHCR a lead support role in relation to IDPs [internally displaced persons]. In 2005, a National Policy was formed with emphasis on durable solutions and affirming the lead role of the Afghan Government represented by the MoRR [Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations], with the support of UNHCR. The policy aims at assisting IDPs … and in finding durable solutions for IDPs through voluntary return and/or local integration.
268. … The displacement is mainly due to “conflict, ethnic tensions or human rights violations, and natural disasters such as drought, or secondary displacement”.
269. In 2002, during the fall of the Taliban regime, 1.2 million people were displaced. The majority of them returned spontaneously while 500,000 IDPs returned with the assistance of UNHCR. In 2006 alone, UNAMA reported that around 80–90,000 people fled due to fighting in the Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan provinces in southern Afghanistan. Some 99,035 families (490,459 individuals) were assisted between 2002 and July 2008 based on the MOU signed by GoA, UNAMA and UNHCR.
270. There are several reports about returning refugees being displaced again on their return because of the lack of economic opportunities, unresolved land and property disputes, lack of shelter and/or basic services such as healthcare and education in their respective places of origin. This situation is of particular concern in eastern Afghanistan.
[footnotes in original omitted]