As he prepared to return to his homeland after 15 years as a refugee, Hazratullah, a native of Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province, was more anxious than happy. "I don't have a house there and I don't know if I will find any work," he told EurasiaNet about his fears. His concerns reflected the fact that he was a reluctant returnee amid a push by Pakistani officials and international non-governmental organization representatives to promote repatriation.
Hazratullah, who like many Afghans uses only one name, was among the first refugees in northwestern Pakistan's Peshawar city to take up a fresh repatriation assistance offer by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For him, the decision to return was shaped more by circumstances beyond his control than by individual initiative. "I can't go around the city because the police will arrest me. I can't find any work so I had no choice but to leave," he said, standing next to his wife and eight children. Their possessions were loaded on a small maroon truck.
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Abubakar Siddique is EurasiaNets Afghanistan correspondent.