Returnees come mainly from Pakistan and Iran, and also include the failed asylum seekers from the EU. In 2016, there was a dramatic increase in the number of returnees from Pakistan and Iran, owing to UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme but also the increased hostility between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan.?
As of 28 October, 56,124 returnees have been registered in 2017, mainly to Kandahar and Nangarhar.? As of May 2017 an estimated 500,000 returnees are in Nangarhar, making up one-fifth of the population. The returnees are adding to the existing pressure on basic services and resources in areas already hosting a large number of IDPs. ?
Returnees from Pakistan
Since 1 January and as of 11 November, over 94,000 undocumented returnees have arrived from Pakistan, with a current monthly average of around 4,000 per month, down from the height of 20,000 returnees in May. Monthly arrivals have decreased in recent months, likely linked to improving relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.? ?A further 43,000 refugees have returned from Pakistan under UNHCR's repatriation programme, as of end of July. ?
In 2016, 380,400 registered and 244,125 unregistered Afghans returned or were deported from Pakistan.? There are nearly 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan. ?
Returnees from Iran
Since 1 January and as of 11 November, over 380,000 undocumented returnees have arrived from Iran. The overall rate of returns was around 38,000 per month from January-October, 32,000 in May, just over 16,000 in June, over 35,000 in July, over 40,000 in August, over 42,000 in September and over 55,000 in October - with the large decrease in June attributed to Ramadan. ?Iran aims to send back 600,000 Afghans in 2017. More than two million Afghans live in Iran, of which just under one million are registered as refugees. ?
In 2016, 427,510 undocumented Afghans have returned from Iran. ?Over 2,700 registered and 260,500 undocumented Afghans returned in 2015.
Returnees from the EU
The EU received over 21,000 asylum requests from Afghans in the first half of 2017; however, between June 2016 and June 2017 there was an overall decrease of 83% in the number of asylum requests. ?The number of returns from Europe in 2016 was three times higher than that of 2015. The returns correspond to a marked fall in recognition of asylum applications, from 68% in September 2015 to 33% in December 2016.?
On 2 October 2016, the EU signed an agreement (the JWF) with the Afghan government allowing its member states to deport an unlimited number of rejected Afghan asylum seekers, after declaring Afghanistan a safe country of origin.? Under this agreement the Afghan government is obliged to take back Afghan migrants from Europe. It was the latest EU measure to alleviate the weight of the many asylum seekers who have arrived since early 2015. Afghans constituted the second largest group of asylum seekers in Europe, with 196,170 people applying for asylum in 2015.?