The Stream

Afghanistan’s displaced: The challenges of returning home

With so many Afghans displaced daily, why are thousands of refugees returning to the country?

Every day in Afghanistan, families are uprooted by armed conflict. An average of 1,500 Afghans are displaced daily, according to the United Nations.

Decades of fighting and natural disasters have made Afghans one of the world’s largest refugee populations, at an estimated 2.7 million people. Just last year, more than 500,000 people fled their homes following intensified violence.

They have been fleeing fighting between the US-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban, an armed group carrying out regular attacks across the country.

Despite this, Afghanistan expects hundreds of thousands of refugees to return home this year. Many are being forced to go back by host countries fatigued by the economic and social pressures of sheltering refugees. Growing xenophobia in these countries, as well as rough living conditions in refugee camps, are just some of the other reasons for the influx of returnees.

The experience can be debilitating, especially for young Afghans. Many were born outside the country and will step foot in Afghanistan for the first time. Lack of education, family networks and security have proven to be a struggle for those trying to build a life. The International Organization of Migration says families often end up in camps for internally displaced people or in areas where fighting exists.

Aid groups have requested more than half a billion dollars this year to address the humanitarian crisis affecting nearly a third of the country’s population. With the conflict impacting Afghanistan’s economic stability, the country relies on aid like this to get by. But critics say it needs a long-term strategy.

The Stream looks at the life that will greet returning refugees, and the conditions of the 1.5 million Afghans who were displaced but unable to leave.

In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Javid Faisal @Javidfaisal
Deputy Spokesperson, Chief Executive of Afghanistan

Noorjahan Akbar @NoorjahanAkbar
Founder, Free Women Writers

Abdul Ghafoor @ghafoorazad
Founder, Afghanistan Migrant Advice and Support Organization

Nassim Majidi @nassimmajidi
Migration Expert

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