Over the past decade, return migration to Afghanistan has changed from refugee repatriation to primarily people returning from labour and mixed migration flows. It can no longer be assumed that repatriating refugees are the most vulnerable in Afghanistan, and policies need to recognise the diversity of return migration flows. Over six million Afghan refugees have returned to the country since 2002, mainly from neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. Although more recently the rate of return has decreased sharply, the voluntary and forced return of migrants to Afghanistan continues. Return from Europe to Afghanistan has been a highly politicised issue over the past decade as Afghans remain to be one of the largest asylum-seeking groups in the continent. Each year, several hundred rejected asylum seekers opt for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration support or are forcibly removed from Europe to Afghanistan. In addition, the political climate in Iran has changed towards Afghan refugees and since 2007 large numbers of Afghans have been deported annually. The result is that over the past decade the nature of migration and return flows to Afghanistan has greatly changed, and policies need to recognise that returning refugees are not necessarily the most vulnerable.
Household survey results
In 2011 we undertook a survey of 2,005 households in five provinces in Afghanistan to examine migration and return dynamics. Included in the sample were 1,100 return migration households (defined as households with either a returning migrant or returning refugees in their midst) and 185 households with a current migrant (defined as migrants who been abroad for three or more months at the time of the interview). - See more at: