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Report: Afghan Returnees Face Economic Difficulties, Unemployment

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(Last Updated On: July 15, 2019)

Afghan refugees who returned to Afghanistan between 2014 and 2017 tend to be worse off financially and face multiple economic difficulties compared to refugees who stayed in Pakistan, finds a new joint report by the World Bank and UNHCR in Afghanistan.

The report entitled “Living Conditions and Settlement Decisions of Recent Afghan Returnees” is the first joint report resulting from the collaboration between UNHCR Afghanistan and the World Bank.

The report analyzes the living conditions of the large Afghan refugee population that returned from Pakistan between 2014 and 2017.

The report shows that despite high poverty and limited employment opportunities, most Afghans returned to their home provinces, with Kabul and Nangarhar provinces together hosting a third of all returnees.

According to the report findings, Afghans living in their province of origin were more likely to be employed, benefitting from established social ties.

Lower access to education and healthcare services are other challenges faced by returnees and host communities, the report highlights.

“The living conditions of Afghan returnees are extremely challenging and require deep and urgent attention,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

“To understand the fundamental needs and challenges Afghan returnees face in their daily lives and to identify and agree on the best ways of addressing those challenges, access to accurate data and analysis is key. Our joint report with UNHCR helps increase coordination among partners and improve the work in support of Afghan returnees.”

“In 2019, we are marking 40 years of Afghan displacement, and while several programs are in place to assist returnees and facilitate their sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan, much remains to be done,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Afghanistan, Caroline Van Buren. “The data and analysis in this report will be crucial to UNHCR and our partners, including the Government of Afghanistan, as we try to improve the way we support Afghan returnees.”

The report assesses the existing challenges and identifies opportunities to further enhance returnees’ sustainable reintegration within Afghanistan’s socio-economic landscape.

It recommends focusing on the voluntary and gradual repatriation of Afghan refugees as a long-term solution to forced displacement and encourages the Government of Afghanistan and its partners to put in place measures to facilitate the return in safety and dignity.

The findings of the report will contribute to further expanding the close collaboration between UNHCR and the World Bank, including on projects that promote self-reliance and support the development of community infrastructure.

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Another two B-52 bombers arrive in region to protect US troops

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(Last Updated On: May 7, 2021)

Two additional US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress aircraft from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on Tuesday as the US Forces and NATO ramp up the troops’ withdrawal process.

According to the US Central Command, the bombers join the four B-52 aircraft that arrived at Al Udeid in late April.

These aircraft are in place to “protect the orderly and responsible withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Afghanistan,” CENTCOM stated.

In addition, CENTCOM stated it is committed to providing the necessary force protection to ensure the drawdown is conducted in a safe manner.

On Saturday, the US military and coalition forces officially started their withdrawal process after almost 20 years in the country.

Within days of the start of the exit process, US officials said 60 planeloads of military equipment had already left the country.

According to reports, US military cargo flights were working around the clock to move hardware out of Afghanistan.

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Afghan security forces able to defend the country on their own: MPs

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(Last Updated On: May 7, 2021)

With the withdrawal of foreign forces underway, members of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) said on Thursday that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are able to defend their country on their own.

MPs said however that reforms need to be brought on a leadership level within the ANDSF.

“After the withdrawal of foreign forces some challenges will exist, but it is related to the leadership of the ANDSF and how they manage the war,” said Khan Agha Rezayee, the head of parliament’s security commission.

“We have a national army, national police, and NDS that can defend the country independently, and they have proven that they can defend the country.”

The Ministry of Defense (MoD), meanwhile, stated that Afghan forces are able to defend the country and people on their own.

“ANDSF are willing to defend the country in every situation; 96% of the operations including night operations and airstrikes are conducted by the Afghan forces. We assure people they need not worry as ANDSF have proven that they can defend the country and people,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, spokesman for the MoD.

Some Kabul residents said that supporting the ANDSF in this time will empower them to ensure security.

“Our security forces are strong, and we believe that they can ensure security. We are proud of them that they can thwart Taliban plans,” said Yasin Shinwari, a resident of Kabul city.

“We believe in the capabilities of the security forces, but the forces need better equipment to go on the offensive,” said Sayed Ali Sena Sadat, another resident of Kabul city.

This comes as reports emerged this week that the Taliban is advancing on key cities in Baghlan, Helmand and Ghazni provinces.

According to reports a number of soldiers have been killed in clashes with the Taliban in Ghazni and Baghlan provinces and in Helmand – while an unknown number have surrendered to the Taliban.

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Taliban capture key dam in Kandahar province

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(Last Updated On: May 7, 2021)

The Taliban has captured Afghanistan’s second-biggest dam after months of fierce fighting in its former bastion of Kandahar, the group and officials said, as the US forces have begun the withdrawal of its troops from the country after 20 years, AFP reported.

The Dahla Dam, which provides irrigation to farmers via a network of canals as well as drinking water for the provincial capital, was now under Taliban control, local officials told AFP news agency on Thursday.

A Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf also confirmed this and said: “We have seized the Dahla Dam in Arghandab.”

Haji Gulbuddin, governor of an adjacent district, confirmed the dam “is now in the control of the Taliban”, AFP reported.

“Our security forces … asked for reinforcements but they failed to get it,” he said.

Kandahar water department chief Tooryalay Mahboobi told AFP the Taliban recently warned Dahla employees not to go to work.

Last month the armed fighters blew up a bridge that connected the dam to adjacent districts, AFP reported.

Dahla was built by the US nearly 70 years ago to provide water for irrigating land in about seven districts of Kandahar.

In 2019, the Asian Development Bank approved a grant of nearly $350m to be used partly to expand the reservoir-style project.

The surrounding district has seen intense fighting in the past six months, but officials announced in April that the area had been cleared.

Before retreating, the Taliban planted explosives across the area – including in residential complexes – officials said.

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