After decades in Pakistan, thousands of refugees return "home" to Afghanistan.

Notes from different corners of the world.
April 22 2008 8:02 AM

To Leave or Not To Leave?

After decades in Pakistan, thousands of refugees return "home" to Afghanistan.

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Outside the repatriation center, we accompanied the de-mining technician to his truck, which was loaded high with everything he could take from his house: beams, window frames, refrigerator, washing machine, beds, bedding, and the entire family mounted on top, women covered by blue burqas, children in their best clothes. My colleague told me that some refugees from Jalozai dismantled their homes themselves, rather than let the bulldozers do it, so that they can salvage the most precious parts of the mud house, namely, the beams. Pointing to the back of the truck, where battered logs were neatly stacked, she made a disarming lapsus linguae: "See? They take with them all their dreams."

Indeed they do.

Anna Husarska is senior policy adviser at the International Rescue Committee.