Government confirms Afghan voluntary returns package

20 Aug 2002

The Government today confirmed that it is to operate a six-month trial voluntary assisted return package for Afghans who wish to return to Afghanistan to re-establish themselves and assist in the rebuilding of the country.

The scheme is open to Afghan asylum seekers who on 20 August 2002 are awaiting initial decisions or appeals, or who have been granted exceptional leave to enter or remain. It consists of £600 for single people and up to £2,500 for families, and will start operating later this summer.

The Refugee Council has issued a statement on the scheme in which it seeks assurances from the Government that it will learn the lessons from previous voluntary returns programmes and not place undue pressure on refugees to return home before they are ready. The Refugee Council would be concerned if the programme of financial assistance for returning refugees is limited to a period of six months at a time when the situation in Afghanistan remains volatile and urges the Government to review the programme at the end of the trial and to continue to assist those wanting to go home.

Those who wish to apply to the scheme should telephone the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on 020 7233 0001.

Read a Refugee Council press release.