A new UN report shows that he number of returning Afghan refugees fell significantly in 2009 compared to 2008. The UN Refugee Agency says the drop is attributable to insecurity and limited economic opportunities for returning refugees. From the UN News Center:
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some 54,000 Afghans returned to their home country this year, just one-fifth the number that returned in 2008.
The majority of the returnees were from Pakistan, while some 5,000 repatriated from Iran and another 200 from non-neighbouring countries.
About 1.8 million Afghans refugees returned from Pakistan and Iran immediately after the fall of the Taliban in 2002, as compared with 278,000 who returned in 2008.
In an update, UNHCR noted that the upsurge in violence in the country since 2006 has rekindled refugees’ concerns, not only about their security and the political stability of their country, but the viability of supporting their families in their homeland under current conditions.
To the extent that the rates of returning refugees are a good proxy for how safe ordinary Afghans feel, this is pretty upsetting news. Refugees International has more about the Afghan refugee crisis.