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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Afghan Refugee Emergency

Facing a fragile peace and a society torn apart by war, the UN Refugee Agency, (UNHCR) has much still to do in Afghanistan. The agency's main focus in 2009 is the voluntary return and reintegration of Afghan refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) back to their home country. Since the end of 2001, more than 5 million Afghans have returned to their homeland.

A mother and child wait to hear if they will benefit from the UNHCR shelter program. UNHCR/M.Maguire

UNHCR's goal is to return all Afghan refugees voluntarily and safely. The agency is working to provide protection and assistance to returning families and develop sustainable solutions for their communities.

Please help UNHCR rebuild lives in Afghanistan.

But the journey home is just the beginning. Once inside Afghanistan, families face the daunting prospect of having to rebuild not just their lives, but also their country's future.

Shelter and clean water are significant concerns for returning refugee families.

Since 2002, the UN Refugee Agency has provided shelters to some 170,000 families, benefiting more than one million people.

In addition, over the past five years, more than 9,000 water points were completed under UNHCR’s water program in high or potential return areas as well as those hit by drought, benefiting and estimated 1.4 million Afghans.

Many refugees are facing other reintegration difficulties, including a lack of land, and basic services such as health care and education. Job opportunities are also scarce. More than 28,000 returnees this year are living in five spontaneous settlements in eastern Afghanistan, unable to return to their place of origin due to insecurity, landlessness, tribal conflicts, personal enmity or lack of livelihood possibilities.

UNHCR is trying to conduct confidence-building measures to promote peaceful inter-ethnic co-existence, in order to establish an end to ethnically-targeted violence. Training workshops focused on promoting gender awareness are another essential aspect of UNHCR's protection of Afghan refugees.

USA for UNHCR calls on the entire international community to support humanitarian relief efforts in Afghanistan. Help us rebuild refugee lives.

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