More than 440000 Afghans refugees return from Pakistan in 2005 with UN

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) added that it would suspend the voluntary repatriation of Afghans from Pakistan from 20 December until 1 March, as it does every year during the winter months, which is traditionally a period of very low return. UNHCR encashment centres, where returnees receive financial assistance once they have returned to Afghanistan, will remain open until 31 December.Since the voluntary scheme began in 2002, UNHCR has assisted 3.5 million out of the more than 4.4 million Afghans who have returned home from the two major host countries, Pakistan and Iran.A significant number of this year’s returns from Pakistan were from camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which were closed by the Government. In the eastern and south-eastern Afghan provinces, where large numbers of former FATA residents have returned, UNHCR is working to provide necessary winter assistance.In Kunar and Nangarhar provinces, families currently living in tents are being provided with construction materials that will allow them to build temporary winter shelters. Throughout the region, vulnerable FATA returnees have been provided with items such as blankets, plastic sheeting and sleeping mats.UNHCR’s assistance to FATA returnees is part of a wider effort involving government ministries, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other UN agencies.The agency has also drawn up contingency plans for general winterization assistance, including pre-positioning packs of supplies for up to 20,000 families.