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Afghanistan: Border Monitoring update - COVID-19 Response (18 - 24 October 2020)

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Afghanistan
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UNHCR
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1,474 AFGHAN REFUGEES RETURNED TO AFGHANISTAN

671,759 UNDOCUMENTED AFGHANS RETURNED FROM IRAN AND PAKISTAN

37,435 INTERVIEWS WITH RETURNEES FROM IRAN AND PAKISTAN

Since 01 January, UNHCR assisted the return of 1,474 Afghan refugees from Iran (722), Pakistan (703) and other countries (49) including Tajikistan, India, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation, under its facilitated voluntary repatriation programme. After a temporary suspension of voluntary repatriation between 04 March and 29 April due to COVID-19, UNHCR resumed its facilitated voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Iran as of 30 April and from Pakistan and other countries as of 10 August.

Refugee returnees receive a multi-purpose cash grant (on average USD 250 per person) and other services at Encashment Centers (ECs) located in Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, and Nangarhar provinces. UNHCR’s cash grants to refugee returnees are intended to prevent, reduce, and respond to immediate protection risks and vulnerabilities upon return to Afghanistan.

According to MoRR/IOM, during the weeks of 18 - 24 October, the total number of undocumented returnees from Iran was 27,524 (15,222 spontaneous returnees and 12,302 deportees) and from Pakistan was 115 (91 spontaneous returnees and 24 deportees). Since 01 January, the total number of undocumented returnees is 671,759 individuals, including 666,257 from Iran (416,450 spontaneous returnees and 249,807 deportees) and 5,502 from Pakistan (5,031 spontaneous returnees and 471 deportees).

During the week, regular population movements continued through Spin Boldak and Torkham crossing points to/from Afghanistan. In addition, the Government of Pakistan has recently resumed issuance of visas, including visas upon arrival for people with medical issues, which has resulted in increased population movements.
Since 21 August, Spin Boldak crossing point has been open seven days a week for pedestrians and commercial trucks. As of 25 August, Torkham border has been open on Mondays and Tuesdays for refugee returnee movements to Afghanistan. Furthermore, on 28 September the Government of Pakistan decided that the Torkham and other crossing points with Afghanistan located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be open for pedestrian traffic on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.