Facing a fragile peace and a society torn apart by war, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has much still to do in Afghanistan. Since 2002, UNHCR's voluntary repatriation program has assisted more than 4.6 million Afghan refugees to return home. But, the journey home is just the beginning. Providing shelter is part of the UN Refugee Agency's core mandate and vital to ensuring that returns are sustainable. Since 2002, UNHCR has helped over 205,000 families rebuild their homes.
At the peak of the Afghan refugee crisis, 8 million people fled their homes, most of them to neighboring Pakistan & Iran. Out of 3 million Afghans still remaining outside their country, 80% have lived in exile for over two decades and 50% were born in their host country. Since 2002, UNHCR has helped some 4.6 million Afghan refugees return home voluntarily. With a lack of jobs, food, shelter and security in parts of the country, refugees who want to return home have little to go back to.
With an estimated 500,000 homes either completely or partially destroyed throughout the 25 year conflict, millions of returnees are vulnerable. Some live in overcrowded conditions with family and friends; others must live in tents or sub-standard public buildings lacking basic amenities. Providing shelter is part of the UN Refugee Agency's core mandate, vital to ensure that returns are sustainable. Since 2002, UNHCR has helped over 205,000 families (1.2 million people) rebuild their homes.
UNHCR is trying to conduct confidence-building measures to promote peaceful inter-ethnic co-existence, in order to establish an end to ethnically-targeted violence. Training workshops focused on promoting gender awareness are another essential aspect of UNHCR's protection of Afghan refugees. Together with UNHCR, the Afghan government is engaged in a consultative process involving neighbors Iran and Pakistan to develop a multi-year solutions strategy for Afghan refugees, to be presented in 2012.
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