In response to the Government’s announcement today of their ‘Explore and Prepare’ programme to help Afghan refugees return home, Maeve Sherlock, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“This is a welcome move, with a sound basis in the success of a similar programme for Kosovans three years ago.
“Many Afghan refugees will have endured terrible trauma in Afghanistan and without this option would find it almost impossible to make the decision to return permanently. This programme will enable them to visit their home country to assess the situation and if necessary to start to lay the foundations for a new life there for themselves and their families.
“We remain opposed to forcibly returning Afghans at this stage however, due to continuing instability in Afghanistan. A process where people return willingly, and with some assistance, is more cost-effective and leads to more durable solutions.”
Further information & links
The Home Office will fund travel costs for the head of household to make a short exploratory trip home to assess conditions before making a commitment to return permanently with their families.
Applications (only one per family) can be made for the Explore and Prepare Programme by contacting the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The application form and FAQs are on IOM’s website or write to IOM at 21 Westminster Palace Gardens, Artillery Row, London, SW1P 1RR or on 020 7233 0001.
For further information contact press office: Jean Candler 020 7820 3057/ Hannah Ward 020 7840 4404 (Switchboard: 0207 820 3000). For urgent or out of hours inquiries ring 0870 0555500 and ask for pager 865169.