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17 November 2016
Afghan refugees wait for their documents to go back to Afghanistan at UNHCR's Repatriation Center in Peshawar, Pakistan. Photo: AP.

Over One Million Afghan Refugees Return Home

Afghanistan – Voice of America: In the largest influx of refugees returning to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2011, more than a million Afghans have returned home — one-fifth of them involuntarily — from neighboring Pakistan and Iran this year, IOM said Wednesday, writes Masood Farivar.

While more than 390,000 Afghan refugees voluntarily returned under a United Nations repatriation initiative, nearly 620,000 undocumented Afghans came from Pakistan and Iran, and more than 6,000 rejected asylum seekers returned from Europe. Nearly one-fifth of the returnees were deported, mostly by Iran.

Afghan refugees and migrants have been returning home all year, but their number swelled in recent months as authorities in Pakistan and Iran stepped up a campaign of harassment and deportation of millions of undocumented Afghan refugees, while the U.N. and the Government of Afghanistan enticed Afghan exiles with cash grants and offers of land.

As recently as last week, IOM and U.N. data indicated a little over 800,000 Afghan refugees had returned to Afghanistan through early November, but on Wednesday an IOM spokesman in Kabul said that figure has now topped 1 million. "This is the highest level since 2002," said Matthew Graydon, a spokesman for IOM's Afghanistan office.

In 2002, nearly 2 million Afghan refugees, encouraged by the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, returned home from Pakistan and Iran where many had lived for two decades. Nearly 4 million others followed over the course of the next 12 years. As security deteriorated last year, more than 200,000 Afghans fled the country, mostly to head to Europe, marking the largest post-Taliban mass migration out of the country.

While many Afghans continue to leave the country, the returnees are coming home at a time when fighting between the Taliban and government forces has internally displaced more than 1 million Afghans this year. With no signs of a letup in the flow of returning refugees, migration advocates are warning about a growing humanitarian crisis.

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Irregular migrants in Mesa, Arizona board a deportation flight in 2015. Photo: John Moore / Getty Images

‘Stay Calm,’ Mexican Officials Tell Fearful Immigrants in U.S.

Mexico – The New York Times: Mexico’s Foreign Ministry, apparently responding to promises by President-elect Donald J. Trump to step up deportations, announced a plan on Wednesday to provide more protection and support for Mexican immigrants in the United States and urged the Mexican population to “stay calm,” writes Kirk Semple.

In a statement and an accompanying video, both titled “We Are With You,” the ministry laid out an 11-point plan intended to help Mexicans in the United States get accurate information about possible changes in immigration policy and avoid falling victim to “abuse and fraud.”

“Fellow countrymen, these are moments of uncertainty,” Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, said in the video. “Stay calm, do not fall to provocations and do not let yourself be deceived.” She added: “We want to inform you about possible migratory actions.” These could take effect starting in February.

The ministry’s strategy promised an expansion of services offered by Mexico’s Embassy in Washington and its 50 consulates around the United States, including a 24-hour toll-free consular hotline to address migration concerns and report possible fraud; an increase in outreach efforts in neighborhoods with large Mexican populations; and more help for Mexican immigrants to secure identification documents for them and for their American-born children.

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Migration in the News
  • Reuters reported that over 240 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean this week as another 580 people were rescued from overcrowded boats. It cited IOM figures.
     
  • Thomson Reuters reported that tens of thousands of children in religious schools across Senegal are forced to beg in the streets to make money for their teachers. It quoted IOM’s Michele Bombassei.
     
  • CNN reported that Iraqi paramilitary forces have recaptured a strategic airbase from ISIS outside the northern city of Tal Afar near Mosul, according to a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces. It cited IOM figures.

Trending on the Internet


  • Associated Press reported that Donald Trump will be on the minds of world leaders as they gather for an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru, this weekend. The US President-elect has made it clear that he is hostile to the kind of free trade deals that tend to be the focus of the annual forum.


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The materials in the Migration Newsdesk are for information only and do not necessarily reflect IOM’s viewpoint unless specifically stated.