Statement of The Islamic of Republic of Afghanistan
Delivered by G. Seddiq Rasuli Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations
at the Third Committee
Agenda Item 62: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to thank Mr. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for his reports under agenda item 62 and his in-depth statement this afternoon.
I further wish to take this opportunity to express my delegation’s gratitude to the High Commissioner and dedicated staff of UNHCR for their commitment towards protection and assistance of the world’s most vulnerable population, the refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs), in particular, their special attention to the plight of Afghan refugees, returnees, and IDPs. We are grateful for that, Mr. High Commissioner.
Since 2002, more than 5.6 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan, the vast majority of which have returned from neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan. This is an encouraging sign that the situation in Afghanistan is improving and Afghan refugees can once again return to their homeland and join their families. However, in spite of the progress made over the past ten years, much remains to be accomplished. The pace of repatriation has slowed substantially relative to previous years. This can be attributed to the dual threats of terrorism and insecurity, widespread poverty, and a challenging humanitarian situation. These have also increased the number of IDPs in the provinces that continue to see the highest levels of insecurity.
The Government of Afghanistan remains committed to providing for the voluntary, dignified and gradual repatriation and re-integration of our Afghan brothers and sisters who fled our boarders due to years of conflict and violence. Already 4.6 million refugees received aid and since 2005 the Afghan Government has constructed 60 townships in 20 provinces for refugees, and a further 39,000 have been provided with portions of land.
As the security situation improves and people gradually return to Afghanistan, the Government faces a significant challenge to provide adequate shelter, work and healthcare, this is becoming an increasing problem as more Afghans return, with the potential for increased refugee flows in the coming years as Afghanistan becomes more stable and secure. The Government of Afghanistan is strongly committed to do all we can to provide facilities for voluntary, dignified, and gradual repatriation.
We must not forget that security challenges and threats still remain a reality in Afghanistan and this poses a serious challenge to the sustainable repatriation of refugees. Between June 2009 and September 2010 alone 12,000 people were displaced as a result of insecurity, bringing the total number to over 319,000 Afghan citizens. We must continue our efforts with our international partners to secure Afghanistan for its citizens both inside and outside its borders.
As a result of this continued insecurity we face a reality in which 40% of refugees who have returned to Afghanistan have not been settled yet, where people are trying to return to their homeland seeking a prosperous future only to be faced with despair with the situation and return to their respective countries of refuge. We must work with the international community and UNHCR to seek out new ways and mechanisms to review our returnee’s policy to find a way to provide shelter and easy access to primary services including health care education drinking water and importantly, work opportunities to ensure the sustainable repatriation of Afghans.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of the Government of Afghanistan to our neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran for being the primary hosts of Afghan refugees for more than 30 years now; we are grateful for that. We have held constructive trilateral meetings with Iran and Pakistan along with UNHCR in May this year recognizing the need to find a comprehensive solution for sustainable voluntary, gradual, dignified repatriation of refugees.
In this regard, Afghanistan, with UNHCR, Pakistan and Iran, is presently developing a multi-year (2012-2014) solutions strategy for Afghan refugees. This strategy will be presented for endorsement by the international community at a stakeholders conference in early 2012.
I thank you Mr. Chairman.