67,057 Afghan refugees permanently repatriated in August

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67,057 Afghan refugees permanently repatriated in August

ISLAMABAD, Sep 7 (APP): More than five times the number of Afghan refugees returned home from Pakistan in August than in July, the United Nations’ refugee office said.
Pakistan is home to the world’s second-largest refugee population, including 2.5 million Afghans, many living here since the Soviet Union invasion in Afghanistan in 1979, according to private news channel.
The U.N. High Commission for Refugees said 67,057 refugees were permanently repatriated in August, up from 12,962 the month before and 1,250 in June.
“The main reason for this is the closing of the Torkham border gate, because these people want to be able to go back and forth across the border, and that has completely stopped,” said Baryali Miankhel, president of the Supreme Council of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Torkham is 180 km (112 miles) northwest of Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad and 170 km (106 miles) east of Kabul, the Afghan capital.
“These people have brothers and other relatives on the other side, that’s why the border restrictions are the main reason,” Miankhel added.
Under the UNHCR program, refugees returning home get a special document permitting them to make the journey.
“The increase in the number of security operations against undocumented foreigners has also impacted refugees’ decision-making,” said UNHCR spokeswoman.
Repatriations are on course this year to reach their highest level since 2008, with the UNHCR saying 103,013 refugees have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan, 93 percent within the last two months.
The surge coincided with a doubling of the UNHCR’s grant for returning refugees, to $400, he said.