New York: Many Afghans who have returned to their homeland are facing a number of major difficulties, including lack of employment, healthcare, education and housing, the United Nations refugee agency has said.
Over 85% of the more than 11,000 Afghans interviewed listed job opportunities, access to safe drinking water, improvement of health and education facilities and housing as their top priorities for the future, it found in an assessment carried out recently.
The findings are contained in ‘Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan II´, the second report of its kind by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
“Despite all efforts made by the Government, this report shows that Afghanistan needs more time to reach sustainable reintegration for those who have come home,” said Salvatore Lombardo, UNHCR’s representative in Afghanistan.
In particular, the study found chronic food shortages among those interviewed, and more than half said they did not have access to safe drinking water, while 60% were living on less than one dollar a day.
One-third of respondents said their children were not attending school, with distance and security concerns cited for girls and the need to work for boys.
The lack of housing was not only a key obstacle for those choosing to return but also a main cause of dissatisfaction after their homecoming.
In response to the findings, the AIHRC has urged the Afghan Government to focus more on the situation of vulnerable groups, including returnees who have to rebuild their lives after spending years in exile.