About 54,000 Afghan refugees have returned to the country under a repatriation program which started on March 1, a UNHCR press release said Tuesday.
Under the program, which was organized by the interim administration and supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), each refugee receives a transportation allowance of US$20 or US$100 per family of five on arrival in Afghanistan.
The returnees also get a UNHCR package containing plastic sheeting, kitchen set, blankets, jerry can, mat, stove, lamp and 150 kilograms of wheat from the World Food Program.
More than 8,900 refugees returned from Pakistan on Monday, and thousands more have been converging at the UNHCR center in Pakistan to register in order to receive transportation and relief assistance on their arrival in Afghanistan.
To cope with the large numbers, the UNHCR plans to open two more additional registration centers on April 1 in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
There are more than 5 million Afghan refugees in the world, and most of them are living in neighboring Pakistan and Iran. With the recent changes in the security situation in Afghanistan and in the weather, some of the refugees are returning to their homes.
(People's Daily March 20, 2002)