ISLAMABAD, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency's voluntary repatriation program for registered Afghan refugees from Pakistan will resume on Thursday after the winter break, the agency said here Wednesday.
Based upon the agreement among the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR), the voluntary repatriation operation had been suspended for the winter period from Dec. 1, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2018.
Pakistan continues to host some 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees who are holding Proof of Registration cards. Around 4.3 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan under the UNHCR-facilitated voluntary repatriation program since 2002, a UNHCR statement said.
The Proof of Registration cards legally allow Afghan refugees to stay in Pakistan temporarily.
"Every Afghan refugee has the right to return to Afghanistan as long as his or her decision is well-informed and voluntary," said Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, adding that the UNHCR continues to advocate that the repatriation of Afghan refugees needs to be voluntary, safe, gradual and carried out in a dignified manner.
Menikdiwela said that the UNHCR acknowledges the people and government of Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for nearly four decades.
She called upon the international community to provide support to Afghan refugees and their host communities in Pakistan, as well as provide targeted development assistance in Afghanistan to support the sustainable reintegration of returnees to avoid further displacements.
The UNHCR provides approximately 200 U.S. dollars to every registered individual upon their return to Afghanistan. Returnees receive the cash grant at UNHCR encashment centers in Afghanistan.