Afghan refugees returned from Pakistan ‘falling between the cracks’: NRC
In this photograph taken on August 19, 2016, a woman cycles past an elderly Afghan villager carrying a bundle of grass over his shoulders in Kandahar. (AFP/Jaweed Tanveer)
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Thousands of families, who have returned from Pakistan to Afghanistan in the past month, are in urgent need of assistance and only a few have received support so far, the Norwegian Refugee Council said on Sunday.
“These people are falling between the cracks. There´s an urgent need for assistance, or the consequences may be fatal,” NRC Country Director in Afghanistan Kate O'Rourke warned in a statement.
In the last four weeks, around 60,000 unregistered refugees have returned from Pakistan to Afghanistan, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) -- a sudden increase in repatriation. The returnees do not receive the same support as registered refugees do upon return.
“It is heart-breaking to see the situation some of the families are living in. Children appear visibly malnourished and families are lacking clean drinking water, shelter and sanitation facilities,” said NRC´s Protection and Advocacy Adviser Will Carter, after visiting areas in eastern Afghanistan.
A grandfather he spoke with in Behsud district had just returned with his family:“My family arrived four days ago with nowhere to go, but found this compound that we share with three other families. There are 35 of us together, sleeping mostly in the open, with no drinking water close by. We don't know what to do, and have no money.”
Between 8 and 14 August, an average of more than 2,600 undocumented Afghans returned daily, according to figures from the Afghan Directorate of Refugees and Repatriation and IOM. More than two thirds of the people coming are children. There are estimated to be over a million unregistered Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
“The number of people returning has increased rapidly during the last weeks, and we fear that the crisis we are currently witnessing could only be the tip of the iceberg”, said Carter.