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Hundreds of war-displaced Afghans are returning east

#Hundreds #wardisplaced #Afghans #returning #east

Hundreds of internally displaced Afghans who had taken refuge in the capital fled their homes in the country’s eastern provinces on Thursday, nearly a year after the end of the war that forced them to flee.

During two decades of bitter fighting during the US-led military occupation, which ended with the return of the Taliban last August, millions migrated within Afghanistan.

Many flocked to big cities like Kabul, where airstrikes, bombings and gun battles were less common than in rural Afghanistan, which has historically been the power base of hard-line Islamists.

On Thursday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) facilitated the return of about 1,600 Afghans living in Kabul to their homes in eastern provinces.

“It is a glorious day, we are returning to our homes and our homelands,” said Sardar Wali, 45, a farmer from Laghman province who fled to Kabul months before the Taliban’s reconquest storm.

“Even if our house was hit by mortars and damaged, we will rebuild it,” he told AFP.

More than 30 buses were chartered to take men, women and children back to their homes, while each family was given $200 to buy food and other essentials, UNHCR said.

Many who took refuge in Kabul lived in makeshift tents or outdoors, while others moved into rented houses only to find they could not afford the expense.

“It’s been just two to three months since we rented a house,” said Pari Gul, who also chose to return to her home as part of the U.N.-backed program on Thursday.

“Our children collect plastic and my husband is old. We cannot afford the cost of living here.”

Afghanistan’s economy is in tatters, tens of thousands of people are losing their jobs after the international community stopped aid to the country following the US withdrawal.

According to UNHCR, an estimated 3.5 million people are still “internally displaced”.

“Everyone loves living in their own village,” said Huma, 36, as she waited in line to collect her allowance.

“We’re leaving thinking that at least we’re going to go home.”

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#Hundreds #wardisplaced #Afghans #returning #east

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