Over two million Afghan refugees in Pak: UN | india | Hindustan Times
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Over two million Afghan refugees in Pak: UN

india Updated: Feb 17, 2007 11:34 IST

More than two million Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan have registered themselves during the four-month exercise undertaken by the Pakistan government, the United Nations reported on Saturday.

The data collected will help United Nations refugee agency and Afghan and Pakistan governments to plan and manage refugees who have taken shelter in Pakistan to escape decades of violence in their homeland.

The newly-registered refugees, numbering 2,161,984, now hold Proof of Registration cards which are valid until the end of 2009 and recognise them as Afghan citizens temporarily living in Pakistan.

Afghans without these cards, who are considered illegal migrants by the Pakistani Government, will have a six-week window between March 1 and April 15 to voluntarily return to their homeland with the agency's assistance.

The agency and the two governments agreed last week to the closure of four refugees camps in Pakistan which currently accommodate more than 230,000 Afghans primarily due to security concerns, the UN said but it was not clear where they would be accommodated as currently other camps too are overcrowded.

The two countries have agreed to pool resources to increase this package to 100 dollars.

Displaced Afghans in Pakistan cite the scarcity of land and shelter as one of the top reasons why they cannot return home, according to a 2005 refugee survey.

To this end, Afghanistan has launched several initiatives aimed at helping refugees returning home, including a land allocation scheme establishing 50 townships, with further plans to set up a total of 100 townships within three years.