HOW MANY TAJIK REFUGEES IN AFGHANISTAN?

Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 133

The repatriation of Tajiks who fled to Afghanistan, including opposition fighters based there, is one of the major elements in the June 27 political agreement which proclaimed an end to the civil war in Tajikistan. (see Monitor, June 27) The repatriation is to be supervised by Russia’s border troops based in Tajikistan, UN representatives, and the Tajik authorities.

However, confusion appears to reign with regard to the refugees’ actual number. A spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva was cited as telling a briefing yesterday that some 38,000 refugees returned to Tajikistan last year with the help of the Office, and that some 22,000 remain in Afghanistan, only few of whom have thus far expressed a desire to return.

The deputy commander of Russia’s border troops, Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Manilov, stated yesterday that an estimated 100,000 refugees from Central Asia are currently in Afghanistan. Since no refugees from the other four Central Asian countries are known to be in Afghanistan — at least not in significant numbers — Manilov’s figure appears to refer essentially to the refugees from Tajikistan. Manilov said that it is planned to repatriate more than 20,000 refugees "in the first stage" of the process. The commander of Russian border troops in Tajikistan, Lt. Gen. Pavel Tarasenko, similarly mentioned yesterday a plan to admit 20,000 refugees "early on." That batch would include some 2,000 disarmed opposition fighters identified on official lists.

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