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Home >> World
UPDATED: 07:56, May 09, 2006
Pakistan asks Afghans to go back or shift to camp
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Pakistan has urged Afghans living near the capital in Rawalpindi city to go back or move to a refugee camp in another city by the end of May, the United Nations refugee agency said Monday.

"They have an option of assisted repatriation by the UN refugee agency, or relocation to Kot Chandna refugee camp in Mianwali, Punjab province," a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statement said.

According to the authorities, a total of 7,335 Afghans in Rawalpindi will be affected by this movement between May 15 and 30.

No reason is given for Afghans expulsion but Pakistan has cited security concerns for such decisions in the past.

Pakistan closed the lone Afghan refugee camp on the outskirts of Islamabad last year, which was the home to some 25,000 refugees.

"Afghan elders are being asked to provide lists of names of those who wish to repatriate to Afghanistan or relocate to the District Coordination Officer's Office in Mianwali," the UNHCR statement said.

Repatriating Afghans who had been verified by UNHCR were eligible to receive a travel grant of between four U.S. dollars and 37 dollars each, depending on the distance to their destination inside Afghanistan, plus a grant of 12 dollars each to ease reintegration once they were home, it said.

Afghans who opt to relocate will be moved to Kot Chandna camp, currently home to some 18,000 Afghan refugees, according to the statement.

The decision to expel refugees from Rawalpindi came after Pakistan struck a deal with the UNHCR to issue identity cards to Afghan refugees, who were allowed to stay in Pakistan for three years.

Source: Xinhua

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