Afghan Government, IOM, Partners Celebrate International Migrants Day 2018

Date Published: 
Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Kabul - IOM Afghanistan celebrated International Migrants Day at the office of the Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul on Tuesday (18/12), together with government partners, UN agencies, NGOs, and representatives of Afghan civil society and media.

Approximately one in seven people worldwide have been a migrant at some point in their lives. Millions of Afghans remain abroad, most of them in neighboring countries. Millions of others - migrants and refugees - have returned back to home in the last six years. In 2018 alone, close to 750,000 undocumented Afghans returned from Iran, and over 30,000 from Pakistan. Another 7,000 returned from Europe and Turkey, according to IOM.

Speaking at the event, which also featured a short theater performance by students from Kabul University highlighting the dangers of irregular migration and human trafficking, Dr. Abdullah stressed how important it is for the government to pay attention to the needs of migrants, given the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. He also highlighted the dangers of irregular migration.

"We shouldn’t think that the situation of Afghans is resolved once they leave the country -  they leave one problem behind but face a hundred new ones. Hundreds of thousands of families in Afghanistan are debating whether to leave or to stay. We need to create a situation where all these families consider staying in Afghanistan a viable alternative to irregular migration, by giving them the opportunity to live in peace and prosperity,” he said.

Refugees and Repatriation Minister Sayed Alemi Balkhi highlighted the good cooperation between his Ministry and IOM throughout 2018. “We thank IOM for their wide-ranging post-arrival support to returning migrants, both those who return voluntarily and those who are forced back to the country. It is important to remember that migration is an opportunity, both for migrants and their host countries,” he said. He also cited the establishment of a joint committee by the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey to tackle regional migration management issues in 2019.

“While migration offers potential benefits to all, for many people, the mere act of migration exposes them to danger. IOM data reveals that close to 3,400 people have died in an attempt to migrate this year – and the numbers are likely higher. Those working to serve migrants and ensure migration is undertaken in a safe, orderly, regular and dignified manner are also at risk. I would like to pay respects to all those from the UN, civil society, and Government who lost their lives in Jalalabad this summer while working to improve reintegration support to returning Afghans, including an IOM colleague,” said IOM Senior Programme Coordinator Sarah Craggs.

For more information please contact Eva Schwoerer at IOM Afghanistan. Email: eschwoerer@iom.int, Tel. +93 729 229 129.