5 May 2005 United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie today saw off a convoy of trucks carrying Afghans home from Pakistan, pushing the total number of those repatriating with help from the UN refugee agency past the 50,000 mark for the year.
The Academy Award-wining actress arrived yesterday in Pakistan for a four-day visit to focus world attention on the plight of Afghan refugees. The 500 refugees who left Attock in the 35-vehicle convoy were all skilled carpet weavers carrying their talents back to their original homes in the northern Afghan provinces of Balkh and Jozan.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it expected up to 400,000 Afghans to repatriate this year, following 2.3 million who went home under the programme in the three previous years. Since 7 March, when this year's programme began, some 55,065 have already gone home.
The trip marks Ms. Jolie's second visit to Pakistan in four years. This time she met with UNHCR staff, and talked with refugees as well as Government officials.
"Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees for many, many years and UNHCR greatly appreciates it," she said yesterday after meeting Pakistan's Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. "There is still much that needs to be done."