Tuesday, August 21, 2007

IDPs and refugees

A UN official warns that the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Afghanistan could increase substantially in the near future if present conditions continue. "There is potential for a significant increase in the number of internally displaced persons if the conflict continues at the present pace," Reuters reports, quoting a UN envoy. Already, there are some 130,000 IDPs in the south and southeast of Afghanistan. (Last week, this blog noted that many IDPs languish and starve while Canadian troops operate nearby, their government unconcerned with the sufferings of these civilians.)

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Afghan refugees who have been living in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Iran are now coming home in droves, many with high expectations about security and prosperity:

At Beni Worsak, refugees who returned to homelessness and poverty in the slums of Kabul, rather than the new freedom they expected, have been given what they asked for - government land.
But that land is desert, miles from anywhere - sandwiched between the Bagram US military base and an American firing range. There are water pumps now, but many of those arriving here are living in tents while those with the skills slowly mix mud and water to make bricks and houses.
"There is nothing here, not even food - we want a school, a clinic where our children can have medicine," reports one returnee.

There is a strong possibility that many returning refugees will soon find themselves IDPs.

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