In 2002 the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) embarked on an ambitious strategy to facilitate the return of Afghan refugees to their country.
Last Tuesday (December 27), Peter Nicolaus, UNHCR representative in Afghanistan described the strategy as the “biggest mistake the UNHCR ever made”.
“The head of the UN refugee programme in Afghanistan on Tuesday described its strategy in the war-wracked country since 2002 as the "biggest mistake UNHCR ever made".
Almost a quarter of the population of Afghanistan is made up of refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran. Many find themselves homeless, or living in slums under tarpaulin.
But Peter Nicolaus, UNHCR representative in Afghanistan, said the international community had failed to help returnees find a means of earning a living and therefore reintegrating into society.”
"This is what the donor community constantly forgets. This has been overlooked and it's still overlooked. Nobody has taken this seriously. It's a tragedy.
"We are now -- for the first time -- bringing this up in the spring conference."
An international conference with Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and the refugee agency is to be held in April to present the new long term strategy.
In November, The State Department Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan reported that U.S. economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan has peaked in 2010 at $4.1 billion and would be reduced to $2.5 billion this year.
Bringing Refugees Home, the challenge ahead spells out some of the recent history.
See this link for other resources - and poems - on Afghan refugees.