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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
UN urges greater refugee support
A Burundian refugee prepares to go home after 12 years in Tanzania
The number of refugees is at its lowest level in more than 25 years
The UN refugee agency is marking World Refugee Day by calling for more long-term support for the millions of refugees who have returned home.

If a country's basic infrastructure is not in place, insecurity and conflict can easily return, the UNHCR says.

In the last four years, more than six million people have returned home from other countries.

This has brought the global number of refugees to its lowest level in more than 25 years, the UN says.

Hope is the theme for this year's event - a reference, the UN says, to the hope of millions of refugees for a safe return home.

But the world needs to look beyond just the return of refugees, the UN says.

"The international community needs to devote much more attention to the transition between relief and development, to rebuilding societies which have been ripped apart by violence," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

Mr Guterres is highlighting the problem by spending the day with Liberian returnees coming back from Sierra Leone and accompany them on their journey home.

Liberia is emerging from a protracted civil war that destroyed much of its infrastructure.

The UN believes the international community is sometimes too quick to forget a country once peace breaks out, says the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva.

So the message is, when people do make that brave and hopeful decision to go home, the world owes them a little more than a good luck handshake at the border, our correspondent says.

While the number of refugees has dropped, the number of people displaced inside their own country - living in refugee-like conditions - has increased over the same period, the UN says, citing recently published figures.

Just one area, the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, accounts for two million internally displaced people.




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