ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - Government signs United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees

Monday, 5 September 2005

Kabul (Fides Service) - Afghanistan, a country that used to be one of the world's largest producers of refugees and asylum seekers has joined the United Nations 1951 Convention with regard to the Status of Refugees and relative protocol dated 1967.
The act was the result of months of close collaboration between the Afghan authorities and the UN High Commission for Refugees UNHCR.Afghanistan is the 146th country to join the Convention signed also by Iran which has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for years.
Despite its travailed recent history Afghanistan has always kepts its doors open to refugees coming mainly from central Asia, including tens of thousands of Tajiks fleeing civil war in their country in the early 1990s.
After the fall of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001 more than 3.5 million Afghan refugees have returned from the neighbouring countries Iran and Pakistan in one of the largest repatriation operations by UNHCR in its 54 years of activity. Besides oragnising repatriation in Afghanistan itself UNHCR helps the authorities in the diffulct task of reintegrating millions of recent returnees.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres who took over from Rud Lubbers on June 15 this year, said: “During the long, dark years of fighting and extremism, millions of Afghans had to flee their homeland to seek refuge elsewhere. It is testimony to the remarkable progress Afghanistan has made on the road to recovery that it is now able to join the Convention.”(PA) (Agenzia Fides 5/9/2005 righe 25 parole 267)