Nearly 7000 Afghans return home as UN refugee agency resumes repatriation

From Iran, where the voluntary repatriation programme continued through the winter, the number of Afghans returning since the start of 2005 was just over 4,000, a number expected to reach 350,000 this year, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.Overall, more than 3.5 million Afghan refugees have gone home from the two countries since the agency began a voluntary repatriation programme in 2002, following the fall of the Taliban regime there.Last year alone, UNHCR helped in the return of more than three-quarters of a million people. There are between 2 million and 3 million Afghans still in Iran and Pakistan.Under the repatriation programme, each returning Afghan receives a cash grant for transport assistance ranging from $3 to $34 per person, depending on the destination. They are also provided with a cash grant of $12 in place of food and non-food items distributed previously.

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