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U-N Says 18-Thousand Refugees Return To Afghanistan - 2001-12-16


The United Nations refugee agency says thousands of Afghan refugees are returning home now that stability appears to be returning to Afghanistan.

The agency says around 18-thousand refugees have streamed back into Afghanistan over the past week. It says about 75-hundred of the refugees came back from Iran, with the rest returning from Pakistan.

An agency spokesman says it is too early to tell if the migration is the start of a trend. Iran and Pakistan host more than three-point-five-million Afghan refugees who fled years of drought and more than two decades of war.

But the spokesman says it is a "positive sign" so many Afghan citizens are returning home now that the U-S-led war on terrorists in Afghanistan seems to be winding down.

However, the refugee agency is cautioning Afghans not to rush home immediately. It says homes, roads, schools and hospitals must be rebuilt before the country can accomodate the return of all refugees.

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