Huge numbers of refugees displaced by decades of conflict are flowing back into Afghanistan, but they are returning to a country in crisis where more than a million people have been forced to leave their homes this year. The Taliban now controls more territory than at any point since 2001, and United Nations officials say the Kabul government is struggling to deal with the influx of returning refugees from Pakistan, which has been pushing for Afghan refugees to return home, the Washington Post reports. More than 800,000 refugees have returned from Pakistan and Iran so far this year, and tens of thousands more are expected to be sent back from the European Union in the near future, reports Voice of America.
The return of tens of thousands of refugees every month while the Taliban conflict creates more "will add very much to the vicious cycle of insecurity and joblessness," Afghan analyst Bashir Bezhen tells the Post. He warns that the government appears "incapable of creating jobs for these people or of improving the economy in the remote places where they live," meaning unemployed youths will be recruited by militants, pushing the country further into crisis. The UN says only 13% of its appeal for $150 million has been raised, and Afghanistan faces a humanitarian crisis as winter approaches. (The iconic "Afghan girl" from a 1985 National Geographic cover has been arrested for allegedly possessing fake Pakistani ID.)