Afghanistan plans to discuss refugee problems in spring
KABUL, January 17 (RIA Novosti) – Afghanistan plans to host this spring an international conference on the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland, the country’s ministry for foreign affairs said on Thursday.
Sultan Ahmad Baheen, a spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, said the participants in the conference will gather to determine the scale of the country’s needs to accommodate the returning refugees and to work out a schedule of financial aid for the country.
According to various estimates, some 1.5-2 million Afghan refugees currently live in neighboring Iran and some 3.5 million in Pakistan. The refugees abandoned their country looking for shelter from war, hunger and destruction.
“We call on our citizens to return voluntarily to their homeland no matter what country they currently live in,” the minister said.
Afghanistan’s population, according to four-year-old data from the United Nations, is estimated at 26-27 million people. A census was last begun in the country in 1979, but was not completed due to heavy fighting.
The European Commission has allocated $15 billion to hold a census in Afghanistan in 2008.