Monday, June 21, 2004

So, I'm archiving my comments on other blogs here.

In response to this post wondering what is going on in Afghanistan.

It should be noted that:
1) According to UN numbers, more than half a million refugees returned to Afghanistan last year and more than three million since the fall of the Taleban.
2) Some of this is due to Pakistan closing refugee camps on the Afghan border, giving refugees a choice between returning home or moving to another camp. Iran has also pushed for refugees to go home.
3) Despite this, displaced Afghans remain the largest single refugee group, comprising more than 20% of all refugees officially counted by the U.N.
4) Some of those refugees, however, date back to the Soviet invasion of the '70s.
5) Despite the improved conditions, some people have still chosen to leave the country, while others have been displaced internally without leaving Afghanistan.

Have refugees been returning to Afghanistan? Yes. Why? Probably because of the relative conditions between Afghanistan and refugee areas. This could be because of clear improvements in Afghanistan. It could be because the UN and government assistance now available makes returning a better prospect even if the local conditions haven't changed appreciably. It could be because countries like Iran and Pakistan are now pressuring refugee populations to leave. It could be some combination of the three that varies from person to person. it could just be a case of "my country, right or wrong."

And any of these conditions don't preclude the possibilty that warlords and Islamic extremists are making life hell for a lot of people.

Afghanistan may have improved from where it was three years ago, but it sure as hell ain't a shining beacon of peace and democracy that should make citizens of other countries in the region feel awe and jealousy.
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