Asia March 2011 refugee


UNHCR: United Nations Refugee Agency: Afghanistan – During her second visit to Afghanistan, United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie called for a greater focus to be put on the reintegration of former Afghan refugees; travelling for two days in the country, Jolie met with internally displaced people and former refugees still struggling to survive and reintegrate almost 10 years after returning to Afghanistan from years of exile. More than 5.5 million refugees have returned since 2002, mainly from Pakistan and Iran, and now make up 20 percent of the population. UNHCR is concerned that too many of these former refugees continue to live without jobs, shelter, health and education. The Goodwill Ambassador, returned to a warehouse in Kabul city that is now home to more than 50 families — the internally displaced and returned refugees who try to eke out a living on the streets of Kabul. It is one of 30 informal settlements in Kabul city where people struggle to survive in the cold winter months. Inside, Jolie was reunited with seventy-year-old BibiZamo Jan. The two met two years ago, but now Bibi is too sick to leave the damp room she shares with eight others. Jolie was moved by what she hears. Jolie also travelled to the QalaGadu village which lies north of Kabul on the Shomali Plain, where almost every family is a returned refugee or was internally displaced before 2002. Jolie met a group of young girls who will study at a new primary school that she helped build. The girls are now studying next to the local mosque. They were excited to meet the visitor who is supporting their education. During her visit to Afghanistan, Jolie called for a greater focus on the re-integration of former Afghan refugees who still struggle to support their families nearly ten years after returning home. SOUNDBITE (English) Angelina Jolie, Angelina Jolie, Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Refugee Agency: “It is clear travelling through the country that what needs to be done is a very focused approach on these places of return. This idea of what return is and the difference between just returning and reintegrating. And the focus that needs to be put now on reintegration and that means not just putting a shelter up but making sure there’s water, making sure there’s job opportunities, making sure there’s a school for the children, and medical. So a lot of these plots that have been given, they have one thing or the other but they don’t have everything. And so it’s difficult for people really to properly to reintegrate and restart their lives and be independent. And I think that’s the focus where people need to come together and really help develop these areas in very comprehensive full way.”

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