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Afghanistan: Voluntary Repatriation Update, January- December 2020

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During 2020, 2,147 Afghan refugees have returned from Pakistan (1,092), Iran (939), and other countries (116) including India, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and the Russian Federation.

After a temporary suspension of voluntary repatriation starting on 04 March 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 2020.

In view of increased transportation costs due to COVID-19, as of 01 July 2020, UNHCR has decided to increase the voluntary repatriation cash grant from USD 200 per person to USD 250 per person (on average USD 100 as a transportation grant and USD 150 as an initial integration grant). The additional funds intend to enable returning refugees to arrange adequate transportation to their destinations in Afghanistan.

UNHCR, in consultation with the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, agreed to continue the facilitated voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees during the winter season. This will enable Afghan refugees to return during the season, including those who were unable to do so in the previous months due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Voluntary repatriation from Iran and other countries has also continued throughout the year.

The 7th meeting of the Quadripartite Meeting, chaired by UNHCR, which was attended by the high-level representatives from the Governments of the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, was virtually held on 01 October 2020. The meeting aimed to discuss progress, challenges and the way forward in relation to the implementation of SSAR to support voluntary repatriation, sustainable reintegration and assistance to host countries. During the meeting, all the parties reaffirmed their commitment to the principle of voluntary, safe and dignified returns.