On his recent trip to Kabul, Simon Henshaw, the U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration said the Afghan government is committed to the return of Afghan immigrants from abroad, but must first ensure employment opportunities and a better quality of life for them.
With the return of many immigrants from Iran and Pakistan, concerns have grown around these immigrants facing unemployment and poverty upon their return.
On Sunday, Henshaw said the U.S. government is providing $107 million USD for employment programs for repatriated Afghan refugees and expressed optimism about the commitment of the national unity government to providing opportunities for Afghan refugees. But he also said Afghanistan's neighbors would need to practice healthy policies toward the refugees as well.
"I am concerned about some anecdotal reports of abuse of some of some of the migrants being returned to Afghanistan from Iran and Pakistan and I think that we have to make it clear that sort of incidents are not acceptable" says Henshaw.
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), every month, 400,000 Afghan immigrants return to Afghanistan, and 18,500 immigrants have returned from Iran and Pakistan in the past four months.
"They must be provided with jobs in the environment that they live in, so they don't have to leave Afghanistan anymore," UNHCR spokesman Nader Farhad said. "I know that finding employment is a challenge and there is a need for budget to create employment opportunities; it should be noted that people inside the country are facing the same challenges as well."
The Afghan Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and the Disabled has echoed the UN's understanding of the current situation. "Those who immigrate, especially from Pakistan and Iran, are unemployed; in other words, when they get here, there are no employment opportunities for them," ministry spokesman Ali Iftekhari said.