EU allocates 17 million euros to support returning Afghans

The European Mission in Afghanistan announced on Friday that it has agreed to provide 17 million euros to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to enhance basic services, economic opportunities, and protection for Afghans and their host communities.

The funds will help the IOM offer sustainable solutions for returnees and address the challenges they face upon returning to Afghanistan. “IOM will establish Community Resource Centers in areas of return to provide integrated services and referrals including healthcare, legal assistance, vocational training, and education,” according to the EU mission’s statement. The centers will particularly support women and children, who make up the majority of the returnees and are especially vulnerable, ensuring their safety, rights, and access to essential services.

Since January 2023, over 1.5 million Afghans have returned from Pakistan and Iran, turning what began as a humanitarian emergency at border crossings into a widespread crisis within host communities, the statement added.

Raffaella Iodice, EU Chargée d’Affaires for Afghanistan, emphasized the critical role of the IOM partnership in safeguarding Afghan returnees. “The solidarity of the Afghan people towards their returning compatriots is an inspiration. We must ensure that communities hosting and assisting newcomers are supported,” Iodice said. “This partnership with IOM secures access to essential services and provides necessary protection for Afghan returnees and their host communities, particularly focusing on women and girls.”

Maria Moita, IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission, also highlighted the importance of the continued partnership with the EU to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan returnees and other vulnerable groups. “Thanks to this renewed commitment, we will be able to focus on addressing the immense challenges in the areas of return and contribute to reintegration, social cohesion, and longer-term solutions for these communities,” she stated.

This announcement comes as dozens of Afghan families are being deported daily by Pakistan and Iran.