KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Thousands of families who have recently returned from Pakistan and Iran to southern Kandahar province need shelter, something the government is yet to provide them.
Over 8,000 refugee families have recently returned from Pakistan and Iran, increasing the number of such families to 38,722 refugees in Kandahar province.
These refugees are complaining about lack of shelter and say only the UNHCR has provided them some help while the government is yet to do anything for them.
Dr. Mohammad Nabi, one of these refugees, said he returned from Pakistan’s Quetta city about a year ago and he currently lived in a rented house in Kandahar.
“We returned to our country after 25 years of migration, but we received only cash help from UNHCR while the government has provided us nothing so far,” he said.
He said they had been hoping the government would provide them at least a plot of land for building house, but his hope did not come true.
“I have visited Kandahar refugees department many times but they only registered my name with an unknown promise to provide me land in the future,” he said.
Nabi asked the government to help the returning refugees by providing them with housing facilities and job opportunities.
Mohibullah is another Afghan refugee who returned from Quetta city to Kandahar province and currently lives with his family in the ninth police district of Kandahar city.
He said he returned 18 years ago to his country but the government provided him no housing facility so far.
He said many Afghan refugees in Pakistan were tired of their bitter life and wanted to return to their own country but they feared lack of housing and job in Afghanistan.
Kandahar refugee and repatriation department head Dost Mohammad Nayab said that 8,478 refugee families returned to Kandahar province from Pakistan, Iran and other countries since 2015.
He said his department this year identified 518 families who suffered from joblessness, lack of shelter and other problems.
Nayab said they were trying to provide food and other essential items to the needy families.
“On a daily basis, 10 to 15 refugee families return to the country from Pakistan through Spin Boldak border”, he added.
He said families who possessed legal documents received assistance from UNHCR and those who lacked legal documents received assistance from the International Organization of Migration (IOM).
Nayab said it was responsibility of the Refugee and Repatriation department to provide shelter for returning refugees, a service he said that was yet to be provided in Kandahar.
Land for townships for refugees is allocated in Panjwai and Daman districts of Kandahar but currently only designs of the townships are prepared and the land is yet to be distributed.
Nayab said land plots distribution process awaited presidential order, which had not been released so far.
In the past, he said, land plots were distributed based on presidential decree No. 104 but now they were distributed under decree No. 305 which required amendment.
He said based on the decree No. 305, relevant UN agencies should be also included in the land distribution committee. However, Nayab said that there were no UN agencies in all provinces of the country which created problem for implementation of the decree.
When the land distribution process would start, a number of international organizations had promised to assist families in house construction under the Shelter Program, he said.
Besides returning refugees, around 185,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) also reside in Kandahar.
Nayab said around 185,000 families from a number of districts and nearby provinces had displaced to Kandahar city fleeing the conflict and drought.
He said the organs concerned and aid organizations were able to provide these families food and other essential items over time.