This week, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) completed an assessment of border management capacity at Afghanistan’s two main border crossings with Pakistan.
The assessment, led by an international border management expert, will help to streamline the registration process for returnees and other migrants and identify other areas where IOM can provide support to the Afghan government.
In 2016, an unprecedented 600,000 Afghans returned from Pakistan through the Torkham border crossing in Nangarhar province and the Spin Boldak border crossing in Kandahar province.
“With returns in 2017 on track to meet or even surpass the levels of last year, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the current procedures at the border, and to look at how they can be improved,” said IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Laurence Hart.
Over several visits to Torkham and Spin Boldak in April, the assessment team met with officials from the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, Border Police, customs officials, humanitarian actors and migrants.
Based on interviews and observations at the borders, IOM will produce an assessment report addressing key areas of administrative and operational capacity including infrastructure and
available equipment; human resources and competencies; the regulatory framework guiding relevant government agencies; procedures and workflow; capacity gaps and issues.
The assessment, which is funded by the Government of Norway, will also identify ways to enhance the integrity and security of the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation’s returnee registration process.
“The report resulting from the assessment will include short-term recommendations for streamlining registration, document security and other border procedures, as well as technical assistance needs that could be addressed by IOM over the longer term,” said IOM border management expert Erik Slavenas.
“In providing border management technical assistance, IOM pays particular attention to promoting good governance, respect of human rights and the rule of law, and the special needs of vulnerable populations in the border areas,” he added.
As a first step toward improving efficiency at the border, the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, with the support of IOM, rolled out the Afghan Returnee Information System (ARIS) in late 2016.
ARIS, a digital registration process for both undocumented and refugee returnees, replaced a paper-based registration system. It allows for better data collection and data sharing. ARIS was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).