75,000 Afghan refugees return home from Dougharoun border Mashhad

June 24, 2003
KHORASAN PROV -- Director of Khorasan Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Nationals Affairs Mohammad Olama said here Sunday that over 75,000 Afghan refugees have returned to their homeland from 'Dougharoun' border checkpoint in the first quarter of the current Iranian year (started March 21).

The return plan of Afghan refugees is based on an agreement signed between Iran Afghanistan and United Nations High commission of Refugee (UNHCR) on March 27. He added that so far 42,295 Afghan have left Iran as part of the tripartite plan, IRNA reported.

Also, over 32,705 refugees have crossed the border to their country as part of the UNHCR volunteer program, he added.

According to official figures some 400,000 Afghan refugees were repatriated to their homeland last year.

Iran houses close to 2.5 million Afghan refugees who crossed the border to Iran during the long and bloody war in their country. Of the sum 250,000 reside in the Khorasan province.

An official of the UNHCR estimates that 500,000 Afghan refugees will return home by the end of 2003.

This compares to 400,000 Afghans who voluntarily returned home from Iran in 2002, the head of UNHCR offices in Iranian provinces of Sistan Baluchestan, Kerman, and Hormuzgan, Tilak Abeysingh, said Sunday.

UNHCR will provide the returning refugees with urgent needs, including food, transport costs, and the cost of reconstructing their houses in Afghanistan, the official added.

The head of Iran's Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs, Ahmad Hosseini, said in January that 600,000 Afghans will voluntarily return home in the current year.

The remaining refugees will be repatriated by the end of next year Hosseini said. "Planning has been made in such a way that the file of Afghan refugees in Iran will have been closed by the end of 1383," he said.

According to a World Food Program report last year, Iran played host to about 2.65 million refugees, of whome 2.35 million were Afghans, 203,000 Iraqis and 5,000 nationals of other countries.