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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 01:36 GMT 02:36 UK
Afghan returnees 'swamp' Kabul
Kabul street with damaged buildings
Kabul was severely damaged in the war
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By Ian MacWilliam
BBC correspondent in Kabul

Aid agencies working in the Afghan capital Kabul say the huge influx of refugees returning from Pakistan and elsewhere is putting increasing pressure on the city's housing and infrastructure, much of which was badly damaged during the war.

Refugee family
The influx of people is pushing up prices
An estimated 200,000 refugees have arrived in Kabul in the past two months.

Refugees flooding back to Afghanistan are bringing a new vibrancy to the country's cities but aid officials say that steps must now be taken to accommodate the city's growing population.

Thousands of refugees are returning daily to Afghanistan and many go straight to Kabul, a city of some two million people.

Some were originally Kabul residents, but others from the villages also intend to stay in the capital for the time being.

Disease concerns

Kabul is seen as the safest place because of the presence here of troops of the international security force, Isaf.

Many returnees say they will look for work in Kabul and aid workers add that many more refugees, originally from villages, but accustomed now to city life in Pakistan, will also want to stay in the capital.

Acbar - an agency which co-ordinates the work of foreign aid organisations in Afghanistan - says the influx of people is rapidly pushing up rents and house prices.

With much of southern Kabul in ruins, there is already a severe housing shortage and many returnee families have to stay with relatives.

Aid officials say the city's water and sanitation services will also come under growing strain, increasing the incidence of cholera and diarrhoea, and they have called on Afghanistan's interim government to put greater emphasis on housing needs in their development plans.

The BBC's Ian MacWilliam
"All the prisoners are ethnic Pashtuns"
EU special envoy to Afghanistan Klaus Peter Klaiber
"The conditions in this prison are so appalling"
See also:

11 May 02 | South Asia
Afghan refugees return home
13 May 02 | Americas
US forces in Afghan gun battle
13 May 02 | South Asia
EU 'horror' at Afghan jail conditions
12 Dec 01 | South Asia
Red Cross probes Taleban deaths
21 Dec 01 | South Asia
US holds thousands in Afghanistan
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