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In Brief: Afghan refugees allowed to stay longer in Pakistan
Millions of Afghans continue to live in Pakistan
KABUL, 10 March 2010 (IRIN) - The refugee cards of about 1.7 million Afghans in Pakistan will be extended until December 2012 and the Afghan government will have to enhance its reintegration services, according to a tripartite meeting of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
“UNHCR plans to assist around 165,000 people who may opt to return to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran in 2010,” Nader Farhad, a UNHCR spokesman in Kabul, told IRIN, adding that the return would be gradual and voluntary.
The two neighbouring countries have also agreed to introduce “a flexible visa regime” to facilitate cross-border movements, UNHCR said.
Since 2002 about 3.5 million Afghans have returned home from Pakistan. About 900,000 Afghan refugees also live in Iran which has expelled hundreds of thousands of economic migrants over the past three years, according to the government.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]