ISLAMABAD: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Wednesday announced to double the individual assistance package for Afghan refugees returning to Afghanistan.
Grandi announced an increase in the existing package, raising it from an average of $200 to $400 per person.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees also introduced an increase in assistance package for the Afghan refugee families returning to Afghanistan under the organisation's voluntary return programme.
During his three day stay in Pakistan, Grandi met with President Mamnoon Hussain and senior ministers. He commended Pakistan's generosity for hosting one of the world’s largest protracted refugee populations.
He noted that the international community needs to support solutions in Afghanistan through robust development investments.
"Traditional approaches to solving protracted refugee situations were not enough and therefore there is a need for innovative solutions."
Grandi reassured the Pakistani leadership of UNHCR’s continued support to repatriate the 1.5 million Afghan refugees residing in the country.
He promised to upscale programmes for refugee hosting communities through the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative in Pakistan and to support Afghanistan in implementing its plans to create conditions conducive for sustainable return and reintegration in high return areas.
'Its time for Afghans to go back to their country'
The government has not yet announced a decision to renew the refugees' legal status beyond June 30, although, in the past, it has extended deadlines at the last minute.
There are only 100,000 registered refugees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said provincial information minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani.
“We don't suggest any aggressive campaign against Afghan refugees, but we have been hosting them for the past 35 years and it is time they should go back to their country,” Ghani said.
Unregistered Afghans had become a major security issue for the government, he said, urging the federal government to revisit its policy on the refugees.
“If Pakistan wants to host them, then it needs to register them and bring them under a proper network,” he added.
More than 2,000 refugees have been arrested in the last month, and 400 were deported to Afghanistan, Dawn newspaper reported.
The number of Afghans voluntarily returning home has plunged this year as violence worsens in Afghanistan, where the government and its US allies are fighting a stubborn Taliban insurgency.