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UN: Afghan Refugee Effort Running Out of Money - 2002-06-07


The United Nations refugee agency says hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees face harsh choices because international financial support is not keeping up with the unexpectedly rapid pace of repatriation.

U-N High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Kris Janowski told reporters in Geneva (Switzerland) 100-thousand people returned to Afghanistan in the past week, bringing the total to around 900-thousand since the beginning of March. The agency now expects nearly two-million to return home this year, including hundreds of thousands who are displaced within Afghanistan.

U-N-H-C-R officials say it is the largest and fastest movement of refugees since the Kurds returned to northern Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War.

U-N officials say the program will run out of money by the end of the month. Mr. Janowski says donor nations so far have contributed only 40 percent of the 271-million dollars promised for the care and movement of refugees.

He also says returnees face serious difficulties later this year unless financial support increases. He says thousands may decide to leave Afghanistan again rather than risk a winter without sufficient food and shelter.

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