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Afghanistan: UN Criticized For Rushing Refugee Return

Kabul, 26 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The human rights group Amnesty International today criticized the United Nations for encouraging Afghan refugees to return home as soon as possible. Amnesty International called the policy irresponsible. It issued a statement saying that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should rethink its stand as current returnees were already overwhelming aid agencies. Amnesty said the Afghan authorities' inability to absorb the large number of refugees now pouring into the country is leading to the internal displacement of people. The group said some returning refugees end up in areas made dangerous by factional fighting.

UNHCR has announced that since March, more than 1.25 million Afghan refugees have returned, mainly from neighbouring Pakistan. An estimated 8,000 Afghans are returning home daily, according to UNHCR figures released this month.