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Afghans in Pakistan: A Protracted Refugee Situation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nasreen Ghufran   

Policy Perspectives , Special Issue Afghanistan, 2008

Abstract

[Afghan refugees have been a protracted problem for Pakistan despite attempts to repatriate them. The presence of over 2.1 million registered Afghan refugees by the end of the year 2007, in spite of the massive repatriation program under way since 2002, is a stark reminder to all the policymakers that other avenues apart from repatriation should be looked into to achieve the goal. The problem should be addressed in the “protracted refugee situations” context to find alternative strategies to this longstanding issue. – Author]

 

The presence of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran is a protracted problem that still awaits resolution. The belief of policymakers that comprehensive and sustainable repatriation could be achieved within the time frame of three years, i.e. 2002–2005, has proved wrong. The extensions that have been made in the time period of the current repatriation program bring into question the vision of those formulating agreements for repatriation from Pakistan and Iran. New deadlines have been set: 2008 by Iran and 2009 by Pakistan. Can the two countries shed their refugee burden within these new time frames? Given the past failures, it is highly doubtful that they can.

 

In the post-Soviet withdrawal period, i.e. since 1989, the presence of millions of Afghan refugees has been questioned by many in Pakistan. They are considered a huge burden on the economy, environment and infrastructure of the country. This paper looks at the problem of Afghan refugees in Pakistan as a ‘protracted situation.’ Thus far, hardly any study has been conducted on Afghan refugees in this framework. However, a great deal of research needs to be conducted from this perspective, as ‘repatriation,’ the option most favored by the international community, has not relieved Pakistan of Afghan refugees.

Protracted Refugee Situations

Before discussing the particular issue of Afghan refugees, it is necessary to explain what a ‘protracted refugee situation’ is, so as to understand the Afghan case better.

Refugees can be regarded as being in a protracted situation when they have lived in exile for more than five years and when they still have no immediate prospect of finding a durable solution to their plight. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) defines a protracted refugee situation as “one in which refugees find themselves in a long-lasting and intractable state of limbo. Their lives may not be at risk, but their basic rights and social, psychological and essential needs remain unfulfilled after years in exile. A refugee in this situation is often unable to break free from enforced reliance on external assistance.”
 

In simpler terms, refugees in protracted situations find themselves trapped in an indeterminate state: they cannot go back to their homeland, in most cases because it is not safe for them to do so; they are unable to settle permanently in their country of first asylum, because the host state does not want them to remain indefinitely on its territory; and they do not have the option of moving on, as no third country has agreed to admit them and to provide them with permanent residence rights.

 

The UNHCR working definition does not, however, fully encompass the realities of such situations. A more effective definition of protracted refugee situations would include not only the humanitarian elements proposed by UNHCR, but also a wider understanding of the political and strategic aspects of long-term refugee problems. Secondly, a definition should reflect the fact that protracted refugee situations also include chronic, unresolved and recurring refugee problems. Thirdly, an effective definition must recognize that countries of origin, host countries and the international donor community are all implicated in long-term refugee situations.

 

While the notion of protracted refugee situations is not new, the increasing interest in the concept is a recent development. It is still evolving, and funds are being poured into various projects to better understand the dynamics and implications of contemporary long-term refugee problems. This sudden emphasis on ‘protracted refugee situations’ is, however, a pointer that the accepted durable solutions to refugee problems are not working in all the cases, and new approaches need to be developed. Repatriation, the most preferred durable solution, has not worked in many situations, leading to the continuation of refugee presence in host countries. The increase in the number of protracted refugee situations in the world represents the failures of the responses of the actors concerned, which have contributed in the prolonged exile, continued economic, social and psychological suffering, and unending frustration of refugees.

 

While major longstanding refugee populations existed in Southeast Asia, Central America, South Asia, the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa during the 1980s, in the early 1990s, a number of these longstanding refugees who had been displaced as a result of the Cold War conflicts in the developing world went home. Throughout the 1990s, given its focus on refugee emergencies, the international community largely ignored the challenge of formulating comprehensive responses to protracted refugee situations. There was more emphasis on repatriation as the preferred durable solution, and the decade was termed as one of ‘repatriation.’ Huge numbers of refugees went back to their countries as the Cold War came to an end and conflicts around the world were resolved. However, new intra-state conflicts emerged and resulted in massive new flows during the 1990s, which led to a spiraling and mushrooming of the global refugee population.

At the end of 1993, the global refugee population was over 16.3 million, with 48 percent of refugees in protracted situations. Ten years later, the global refugee population stood at 9.6 million, with over 64 percent in protracted situations. Thus, at the conclusion of 2003, there were 38 protracted refugee situations involving 6.2 million refugees. While there are fewer refugees in protracted situations today than there were in the past, the number of such situations has greatly increased.

 

Sub-Saharan Africa hosts the largest number of protracted refugee situations in one region: 22, involving a total of 2.3 million refugees. In contrast, the entire geographical area encompassing Central Asia, South West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East hosts 8 major long-term refugee populations, consisting of 2.7 million refugees. The overwhelming majority are the Afghans in Pakistan and Iran, who totaled nearly 2 million at the end of 2003. (For details, see appendix.)

 

Given the high number of protracted refugees’ situations, analysts and practitioners need to come up with solutions that will ultimately reduce, if not eliminate, the problem in the near future. Lessons can be drawn from the past, as there are some examples of success. Comprehensive solutions to long-term populations based on the three durable solutions — resettlement, integration and repatriation — are not new.

 

The issue of displaced people in Europe after 1945 was resolved through resettlement. The international response to the Indo-Chinese refugee crisis in Southeast Asia during the 1980s is a second important example. In contrast to the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese refugees (CPA), wherein resettlement was identified as the primary durable solution, the International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA) convened in 1989 placed the greatest emphasis on return and reintegration, supported by selected projects on local integration, as the primary durable solution.

The Case of Afghan Refugees

No major study exists on the issue of Afghan refugees as a protracted refugee situation (PRS). The recent interest of UNHCR and other related organizations in addressing the challenges of PRSs and attempting to find solutions provide a new hope for the residual Afghan population in Pakistan.
 

Afghans, who have been in Pakistan for over two decades, have found ways of earning their livelihood, but being refugees they face pressures from officials and the local people in carrying out their economic activities. They all want an end to their protracted refugee situation, but the conditions back home deter their return. The political and security situation in Pakistan remains tense, especially along the border with Afghanistan. Insecurity and restricted access to parts of the country have hampered UNHCR’s ability to assist and protect refugees.
The Geneva Accords of 1988 led to the Soviet troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan by February 1989, which resulted in massive repatriation from Pakistan. In 1992, over 1.5 million Afghan refugees returned to their homeland. However, it was estimated that over two million had not returned, in spite of the repatriation program under way and the desire of the government and UNHCR. It was in 2000 that Pakistan started showing signs of ‘refugee fatigue’; it prevented new refugee inflows and reiterated its desire that the refugees return. The reasons given for this hard stance were declining donor assistance, security threats, including rise in crime, and the profound impact of refugees on the national budget and the labor market.

 

A new repatriation program was planned for the period 2002–2005. Agreements were signed and a policy adopted by the Afghan government for the dignified return of all refugees and displaced people. Within this period, over 3.5 million individuals returned from Pakistan, Iran and other hosting countries to their places of origin or other destination in Afghanistan. However, continued civil war in the country made it impossible for the entire refugee population to return, and made the situation more complex for policymakers.

 

Currently, around 3 million registered Afghan refugees are living in Pakistan and Iran, the majority of whom are now in their second or even third generation of displacement. In Pakistan, 74 percent of the Afghan population is under 28 years, while 71 percent of the Afghan population in Iran is aged 29 years or under. Future projections regarding the third generation suggest that the proportion of Afghans under the age of 5 years will reach 13 percent of all Afghans in Pakistan and nearly 10 percent in Iran.

 

UNHCR has asked for about $100 million from donors for its Afghan operations in the years 2008–2009. The agency will need over $49 million in 2008 and over $50 million in 2009 to assist 540,000 Afghan refugees who are expected to return, primarily, from neighboring Pakistan and Iran. Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, stated in the new funding appeal statement that “This 2008–2009 edition is the first Global Appeal to cover a two-year period. It corresponds to our new biennial budget cycle which, among other advantages, should help the predictability of funding.” The new funding appeal shows a slight decrease in UNHCR’s budget for its Afghan operations. The UNHCR had a budget of about $52 million for its refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) support activities in 2007. Repatriation, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Afghanistan requires generous funding from the donor community. Whether the donor community will retain its interest in the country and the plight of refugees in the coming years is yet to be seen.

 

It is also believed by some Western analysts that refugee camps may serve as breeding grounds for violence and rebellious activities. This is seen to be particularly likely in the context of the “War on Terror.” The War on Terror being fought in Afghanistan, and the flawed approach it follows, have increased the possibilities that some of those resisting the Allied Forces may use refugee camps for shelter. The tribal areas have been the scene of continuing clashes between the Pakistan army, extremist elements and tribesmen linked to fighting in Afghanistan. This forced the Government of Pakistan to close down all the camps in the border area in 2005, leading to involuntary repatriation. The Pakistani government has announced that all remaining Afghan refugee camps will be closed by the end of 2009.

 

The proliferation in roadside bombs, suicide attacks, targeted killings, sustained and significant aerial bombing raids and military operations have destabilized Afghanistan despite the massive presence of international forces to protect and reconstruct the country. The situation puts the entire repatriation process into question, and it has earned criticism from various quarters, including human rights organizations and returnees. Resentment against the Pakistani government is increasing among locals and refugees because Afghans do not want to return to their country.

 

Pakistani authorities carried out a four-month countrywide campaign from October 2006 to February 2007 to register Afghans. Officials said the objective of the registration effort was to develop a basic demographic profile of the Afghan refugee population in order to manage its development, welfare and, more importantly, phased repatriation with dignity and honor. The reality was that the government and UNHCR had to come up with a policy to deal with the residual Afghan population. They needed more time to manage the population. They devised a policy to register all Afghans and provide them with Proof of Registration (PoR) cards, allowing them to stay in the country for another three years and giving the officials more time to come up with solid solutions. The process of registration involved various organizations and agencies imparting the impression that the government was bent upon repatriating refugees.

 

Under the $6-million registration drive funded by Pakistan, the European Commission, the United States and Britain, all Afghans above the age of five who were registered received Proof of Registration cards, valid for three years (up to 2009), recognizing them as Afghan citizens temporarily living in the country. Children under five were listed on one of their parents’ cards. UNHCR hopes that within the period of the PoR cards’ validity, it will be possible to find more durable solutions to this protracted situation. According to the registration, the word “refugee” is no longer used for Afghans; on the contrary, they are termed as “Afghan citizens,” underlining their non-refugee status. However, terminology has not changed the ground situation; unofficially, they are still regarded as refugees.

 

UNHCR clarified the purpose of the registration in order to remove any ambiguities in the minds of refugees. In itself, the Proof of Registration card is not a work permit or travel document. It is for identity purposes only, recognizing the bearer as an Afghan citizen temporarily living in Pakistan. It is a protection tool against harassment, but does not confer any additional rights or status. The card, which bears the fingerprint and digital photographs of the owner, is also designed to help the owner receive assistance upon return to Afghanistan.

 

Although registration of refugees was carried out successfully, it revealed the disturbing fact that a large number of refugees do not want to repatriate to their country under the present conditions. The majority of Afghan refugees (82 percent) registered in Pakistan said they had no intention of returning in the near future. This position was consistent for all Afghans who had arrived in Pakistan in 1979 and in succeeding years. It also echoed a similar result generated during the 2005 census. Convincing them to return will be a challenging task for Pakistan, UNHCR and the Afghan government.

 

Between March and mid-August 2007, more than 300,000 Afghans voluntarily repatriated from Pakistan, including more than 200,000 unregistered Afghans who returned home during a six-week grace period agreed upon by the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Unregistered Afghans are considered illegal migrants in Pakistan. The Tripartite Agreement that governs the voluntary repatriation of Afghans was signed in August 2007 and is valid until the end of 2009. Although the Afghan population and the number of camps have decreased due to repatriation and camp closures, the population remaining in camps continues to need support in the areas of water, sanitation, health and basic education.

 

The current developments in both Pakistan and Iran indicate that the two no longer want to host the protracted refugee population and have stepped up efforts to have them repatriated. Kilian Kleinshmidt, the Assistant Representative of UNHCR in Pakistan, believes that management of population flow has always been a crucial task, which has been creating problems for all stakeholders in the refugee issue. He is of the view that, despite the difficulties of voluntary repatriation, Afghan refugees will have to go back to Afghanistan and stay there, and this will encourage others to follow suit, ultimately leading to the sustainable repatriation of all Afghan refugees from Pakistan. He, however, cautions that the absorption capacity in Afghanistan is a major challenge in the repatriation process; land, housing, water, health and employment related issues need special attention. He also stresses the need for more policy debate over the issue of Afghan refugees in Pakistan as it is creating a negative environment between the two neighbors. Thus, both Pakistan and UNHCR agree on repatriating Afghans, despite the need to look beyond the policy of repatriation in the current environment of worsening security in Afghanistan.

 

UNHCR launched an initiative known as “Afghanistan Plus” (Sep 2006) aimed at developing a broader policy framework within which displacement may be managed increasingly as a migration and poverty problem, rather than just a refugee situation. This shift in approach gives a completely new dimension to the presence of Afghan refugees, and is more in congruence with the concept of approaching and resolving protracted refugee situations. Four issues need to be addressed: (i) overcoming the poverty that prevents many Afghans from returning home to conditions of sustainable reintegration and economic recovery; (ii) managing the flow of persons who are moving back and forth for economic and social reasons; (iii) dealing with the absence of law; and (iv) responding to the wishes of those Afghans who have legitimate reasons for remaining in the asylum countries, and identifying those with genuine needs for continuing international protection. A shift in approach has taken place but implementation remains an elusive task for the UNHCR and donors. Continued international engagement and support will be required to develop and underpin such a transition.

 

With each passing year, however, it may become more difficult to encourage refugees to return voluntarily to Afghanistan. Those who were most capable of returning did so in the early years; those who remain have progressively less to return to — in terms of houses, livelihoods and family — in Afghanistan. Furthermore, maintaining the high pace of returns will require greater levels of reintegration assistance to anchor returnees in their homes and help them reestablish their lives in Afghanistan. Security will also be a major factor in population displacement within and across borders. According to UNHCR data, the refugees who have already returned to Afghanistan have spent, on average, less time in Pakistan than those who remain. This may suggest that those who left for Afghanistan in the early years did so because it was easier for them: they still had connections with Afghanistan. Those who remain, by contrast, may find it especially difficult to return to a country to which they have, relatively speaking, few ties. UNHCR, the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the Pakistani authorities are developing a needs assessment to address these ongoing refugee issues.

While all agree that eventual return is the best solution, it is likely that many refugees will remain in Pakistan for years to come. Aid workers like Graham Wood, the head of Ockenden International, Pakistan, believe that “Long-term refugee situations, like Afghans in Pakistan, require imaginative funding and program work. It is not enough to assume that people will simply go home when the wider international community says so.” This statement is rational and valuable in the present context. An effective response to the protracted refugee situation needs to be developed. Unless there is a shift from the present emphasis on repatriation towards a comprehensive approach addressing the matter as a protracted situation, the longstanding Afghan refugee problem will not be resolved. Reliance on a single solution does not work in protracted situations, therefore, it stresses on integrating voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement whenever feasible into one comprehensive approach. Furthermore, such an approach must be implemented through close cooperation among countries of origin, host states, UNHCR and its humanitarian and development partners, especially NGOs, as well as refugees.

 
The key to responding effectively to protracted refugee situations is partnership with all stakeholders to enable astute planning, build ownership and increase available resources. With refugees, partnership can entail taking a community-based approach; with host governments, it can encompass joint problem analysis and the implementation of programs that benefit both refugees and host populations; with development actors, it requires persistence and advocacy to ensure that refugees and refugee-hosting areas figure on development agendas; and with the international community (governmental and non-governmental), it involves joining forces to ensure that responsibilities and burdens are shared. For partnership to be genuine and productive, UNHCR must be open to the ideas and objectives of others. This applies in both the political and development spheres, where it is incumbent upon UNHCR to grasp the ‘big picture’ in order to be able to effectively insert refugee concerns into these agendas.

The Way Forward

A shift in Pakistan’s present policy of repatriation is recommended. Pakistan should focus on addressing the refugee problem within a protracted context. A comprehensive and truly effective solution to the protracted situation needs to be developed. This calls for coordinated engagement between a range of peace and security, development and humanitarian actors, and implies that all actors would have to take some responsibility in ending the refugee cycle. Coordination and consistent engagement are the keys to such a solution. This approach has an advantage; Pakistan will not be required to give up its repatriation option. It can pursue it along with the other two durable solutions, i.e. local integration and resettlement in a third country. Local integration has not been considered and is less likely to take place in the near future, but the government has to accept the fact that some Afghans do possess Pakistani national identity cards, and have married Pakistanis and are carrying out flourishing businesses. They are very much locally integrated but in a de facto manner. Legalizing their status and developing a strategy to do so will bear positive results. Stressing the option of resettlement in a third country will shift some of the burden from Pakistan. Afghans who desire to resettle in another country should be facilitated in the process rather than prevented through strict asylum and immigration policies.
 

In order to comprehend the concept of the protracted refugee situation develop a comprehensive response approach, there is a need for national debate on the issue in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Policy debates are not a common norm in either country because the governments are not open to criticism. In Pakistan, the government can start the process on a small scale by arranging seminars on the issue in universities of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan, bringing together academicians, refugees and practitioners to debate the issue. In the capital, UNHCR along with the European Union and other interested agencies should organize international conferences focusing on policy prescriptions. Policy debates should not only be restricted to practitioners and bureaucrats, but rather involve a wider range of actors. The greater the participation of academicians, practitioners and refugees, etc., in such events, the more input for policymakers. Critical evaluation of past flawed policies will lead to corrective measures and adoption of a comprehensive and pragmatic policy that responds to new developments. Defending its flawed policies will lead Pakistan nowhere. The initiatives should come from within and should not be proposed from outside.

 

The development of more systematic and structured responses to longstanding refugee problems has also been one of the stated objectives of UNHCR’s Convention Plus initiative, which focuses on comprehensive plans of actions in addressing PRSs. Afghanistan Plus has been initiated with the same purpose. UNHCR has recognized that it cannot resolve the Afghan issue alone, but it has to play a central role and make Afghanistan Plus a success story, otherwise the “4 Rs” — repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction — will remain elusive objectives, resulting in prolongation of Afghans’ stay in Pakistan. All the 4 Rs require handsome funding, which should be undertaken as a policy project by the European Union, United States, Canada and Japan.

 

A well-designed strategy is needed for the media to play a proactive role in highlighting the problems of refugees in a protracted situation and bring awareness and understanding amongst the people. This will have a positive effect on coping with the residual population, as PRSs do not have simple solutions and may take years to be resolved. So far, the media has been reporting developments regarding refugees, but more interest in the issue will bear positive results for all stakeholders. Refugees will feel that they are not ‘forgotten people,’ and the government will be more alert and take pragmatic measures to deal with the problems refugees face as they suffer in an apparently interminable limbo without any durable solution in sight. Donors too will become more responsive to the needs of protracted refugees. The media plays a powerful role in shaping the opinion of the public; if it plays it constructively in this context, all stakeholders will benefit.

 

While refugees do not have many choices when a repatriation process is under way, it is nevertheless important that when they decide to return to their country of origin after a prolonged stay outside, it should be a well-reasoned decision. Whether the decision is taken individually or in groups, it should be an intelligent one, looking into the pros and cons of return. Displacement continues if those concerned do not make appropriate decisions. Sometimes, such refugees find it difficult to face the challenges back home and try to find ways to reenter Pakistan.

 

Recycling of refugees is difficult to check or even detect, given the porous border between the two countries. However, all those concerned should work out the modalities of how to manage this. Partial fencing of the long border has started, and Pakistan’s government has claimed that the points fenced have brought flows there to a halt. However, fencing the border when the Afghan government does not recognize the Durand Line (the border between the two countries) is unlikely to achieve the objective. Legislation is direly needed in this respect. As no such law exists at present, population movements cannot be monitored the way Pakistan, Afghanistan and the international community desire. A thorough analysis of the problem is needed before a policy is adopted.

 

The Afghan government should take emergency steps to reintegrate its displaced population, otherwise the cycle of displacement will continue. The tribulations faced by a government in a post-conflict situation are understandable, but the sooner the government takes independent initiatives to address its national problems and reduce the interference of others, the sooner, hopefully, the problems of returnees will be resolved. The main concerns of refugees, regarding shelter and employment, should be given priority to attract them home. Continuing a repatriation policy without providing the basic facilities is likely to fail. There should be increased emphasis on reintegration and post-conflict recovery.

 

Moreover the Afghan government has to adopt a balanced and integrated approach to make repatriation durable and sustainable. The essential confidence and will of the people to overcome the present difficulties and face challenges need to come from within, instead of depending on strategies worked out in foreign lands to rebuild and reconstruct Afghanistan. While such externally made policies may have positive intentions, it is a fact that no plan imposed from outside has never worked for Afghans. Solutions must come from the Afghans, who have suffered immensely from decades of civil war.

 

Once they return to their homeland, Afghans should initiate a process of reconciliation, as this alone will help them to integrate better. While reconciliation is a complicated issue and it involves the will of the government and power shareholders, returnees can play a very important role in bridging the divisions that have been created by displacement and political persecution. They should try to forgive and refrain from taking revenge against those who have been responsible for their suffering and displacement. The government should take measures to involve them in the reconstruction process so that reconciliation accelerates and peace initiatives increase.

 

References

Betts, Alexander. 2006. “The Politics of Human Rights and Security Implications of Protracted Refugee Situations.” Conference Report. Journal of Refugee Studies (Oxford) 19 (4). http://www.jrs. Oxford journals.org.

Crisp, Jeff. 2003. “The Problem of Protracted Refugee Situation in Africa.” Refugee Survey Quarterly (Oxford University Press) 22 (4).

Loescher, Gil and James Milner. 2005. Protracted Refugee Situations: Domestic and International Security Implications. Adelphi Paper 375. London: International Institute for Strategic Studies.

———. 2006. “Protracted Refugee Situations in Thailand: Toward Solutions.” Presentation to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, February 1. http://www.refugees.org.

Margesson, Rhoda. 2007. Afghan Refugees: Current Status and Future Prospects. Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for US Congress. http://www.fas.org.

Saito, Mamiko. 2007. Second Generation Afghans in Neighbouring Countries. Kabul: Afghanistan Research Evaluation Unit (AREAU).

United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). 2004. Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme. Protracted Refugee Situations. UNDOC EC/54/SC/CRP 14.

———. 2005. “Protracted Refugee Situation.” Refugee Survey Quarterly 24 (1).

———. 2006. Afghanistan Situation: Operational Update. September.

———. 2007. “Afghanistan.” UNHCR Global Appeal 2008–09. http://www.unhcr.org (accessed January 13, 2008).


Annex
Major Protracted Refugee Situations


Region/Country of asylum

Origin

UNHCR assistance status

Total

Percentage of assisted

Assisted

Not Assisted

Burundi

Dem Rep of the Congo

13,000

27,000

41,000

32%

Central African Rep

Sudan

36,000

-

36,000

100%

Chad

Sudan

55,000

55,000

110,000

50%

Dem Rep of the Congo

Angola

43,000

81,000

120,000

36%

Dem Rep of the Congo

Sudan

11,000

34,000

45,000

24%

Rwanda

Dem Rep of the Congo

35,000

-

35,000

100%

United Rep of Tanzania

Burundi

320,000

170,000

490,000

65%

United Rep of Tanzania

Dem Rep of the Congo

150,000

-

150,000

100%

Central Africa and Lakes

670,000

370,000

1,000,000

670%

Djibanti

Somalia

25,000

-

25,000

100%

Ethiopia

Sudan

95,000

-

95,000

100%

Kenya

Somalia

150,000

-

150,000

100%

Kenya

Sudan

63,000

-

63,000

100%

Sudan

Ernea

73,000

35,000

110,000

66%

Uganda

Sudan

180,000

20,000

200,000

90%

East and Horn of Africa

620,000

55,000

670,000

93%

Zambia

Angola

72,000

87,000

160,000

45%

Zambia

Dem Rep of the Congo

54,000

4,000

58,000

93%

Southern Africa

130,000

91,000

220,000

59%

Cameroon

Chad

-

39,000

39,000

0%

Corte d Ivoire

Liberia

74,000

-

74,000

100%

Ghana

Liberia

42,000

-

42,000

100%

Guinea

Liberia

89,000

60,000

150,000

59%

Guinea

Sierra Leone

15,000

10,000

25,000

60%

West Africa

220,000

110,000

330,000

67%

Africa

1,600,000

620,000

2,300,000

70%

Algeria

Western Sahara

160,000

10,000

170,000

94%

Egypt

Occupied Palestinian Territory

-

70,000

70,000

0%

Iraq

Occupied Palestinian Territory

-

100,000

100,000

0%

Islamic Rep of Iran

Afghanistan

830,000

-

830,000

100%

Islamic Rep of Iran

Iraq

150,000

-

150,000

100%

Pakistan

Afghanistan

1,120,000

-

1120,000

100%

Saudi Arabia

Occupied Palestinian Territory

-

240,000

249,000

0%

Yemen

Somalia

59,000

-

59,000

100%

Caswaname

2,300,000

420,000

2,700,000

85%

China

Viet Name

11,000

290,000

300,000

4%

India

China

-

92,000

92,000

0%

India

Sri Lanka

-

61,000

61,000

0%

Nepal

Bhuran

100,000

-

100,000

100%

Thailand

Myanmar

120,000

-

120,000

100%

Atta and the Pacific

230,000

440,000

670,000

34%

America

Azerbaijan

50,000

190,000

240,000

21%

Serbia and Montenegro

Bosnia and Herzegovina

100,000

-

100,000

100%

Serbia and Montenegro

Croatia

190,000

-

190,000

100%

Europe

340,000

190,000

530,000

64%

Total

4,500,000

1700,000

6,200,000

73%

Source: United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) Annual Statistical Report 2003.

Refugee situations numbering 25,000 or more persons by the end of 2003 which have been in existence for 5 or more years. Industrialized countries are not included. Numbers rounded to two significant figures. Totals may not add up due to rounding. (UNHCR, 2004, Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme, Protracted Refugee Situations, UNDOC EC/54/SC/CRP.14. June 10.).

UNHCR 2004.

Crisp 2003.

Loescher and Milner 2005, 14.

According to the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, there are three durable solutions to refugee problem — resettlement in a third country, integration in the host country or repatriation to their own country.

For example, in Southern Africa, huge numbers of Mozambicans, Namibians and others repatriated. Large numbers of Afghans from Pakistan returned home. In Indo-China, the Cambodians in exile in Thailand returned home and Vietnamese and Laotians were resettled to third countries or were repatriated. With the conclusion of conflicts in Central America, the vast majority of displaced Nicaraguans, Guatemalans and Salvadorians returned to their home countries. In 1993, in the midst of the resolution of these conflicts, there remained 27 protracted refugee situations, with a total population of 7.9 million. (Loescher and Milner 2006)

Loescher and Milner 2005, 15.

Ibid., 13.

The most important host countries on the continent are Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Guinea.

The given figure of Afghans in Pakistan and Iran may be debated as, at that time, Pakistan had not carried out census of Afghans in its territory. In other parts of Asia, there exist 5 protracted situations involving a total of 670,000 refugees in China, Thailand, India and Nepal. In Europe, there were three major protracted populations, totaling 530,000 refugees, primarily in the Balkans and Armenia.

Following UNHCR’s appeal to major Western governments to provide funds and resettlement quotas, this protracted refugee problem was finally resolved by the mid-1960s. This durable solution is an oft-forgotten precedent for addressing the needs of refugees for whom neither local integration nor repatriation are viable options. (Loescher and Milner 2005, 72)

In response to public outcry at the dire conditions of thousands of ‘boat people’ who had fled Vietnam, and those who had left Cambodia and Laos overland, and following dramatic steps by other Southeast Asian countries to prevent the arrival of the asylum seekers, concerned states gathered at an International Conference on Indo-Chinese Refugees in July 1979. Western states agreed to dramatically increase the number of refugees they resettled from the region. In exchange, it was agreed that the boat people would be recognized as refugees prima facie, that illegal departures would be prevented and that regional processing centers would be established. (Ibid.)

A second International Conference on Indo-Chinese refugees was convened in June 1989 and concluded with the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese refugees (CPA). The CPA comprised of five mechanisms by which the countries of origin, countries of first asylum and resettlement countries cooperated to resolve the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia: an Orderly Departure Program to prevent clandestine departures, guaranteed temporary asylum by countries in the region, individual refugee status determination for all arrivals, resettlement to third countries for those recognized as refugees, and facilitated return for rejected claimants. (Ibid.)

Following a series of peace agreements ending over a decade of conflict of civil war in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, CIREFCA was an integral part of the wider objective of consolidating peace in the region. Through a series of develop-pment initiatives for returning refugees, capacity-building initiatives for returning refugees targeting states and NGOs, and the integration of refugees and returnees into national and regional development strategies, CIREFCA formulated a compre-hensive solution appropriate to the needs and priorities of the region. (Ibid., 72)

Saito 2007, 1.

UNHCR 2007.

“UN Prepares for Repatriation of Over Half a Million Refugees,” IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis, December 7, 2007, http://www.irinnews.com.

Betts 2006.

“Pakistan: Report Sheds New Light on Afghan Refugee Community,” IRIN Human-itarian News and Analysis, May 3, 2007, http://www.irinnews.org (accessed November 13, 2007).

Azhar Masud and agencies, “Pakistan Begins Registration of Afghans,” Arab News, October 16, 2006, http://www.arabnews.com (accessed December 12, 2007).

“Pakistan: Afghan Refugees Reluctant to Participate in Registration,” IRIN Human-itarian News and Analysis, November 3, 2007, http://www.irinnews.org (accessed December 12, 2007).

“Afghanistan-Pakistan: Registration of Afghan Refugees to Start,” IRIN Human-itarian News and Analysis, September 13, 2006, http://www.irinnews.org (accessed December 14, 2007).

UNHCR 2007.

“Conducive Environment Needed to Repatriate Afghan Refugees,” Dawn, June 6, 2007.

UNHCR 2005, 156–157.

Margesson 2007, 12.

UNHCR 2006.

Ockenden International works with some of the most vulnerable communities in the world. It provides opportunities to rebuild lives torn apart by conflict or natural disaster, helping restore self-reliance to displaced people.

“The Return of Afghan Refugees.” Ockenden International, May 2005, http://www. ockenden.org (accessed November 13, 2007).

Seminars in the universities of these two refugee-dominated provinces of Pakistan will help bring all the stakeholders together to jointly work out the modalities for the future.

 
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