"According to the United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, there were more than 3.8 million Afghan refugees in 2001. The number had dropped by the mid-2000s, a time of hope that came with the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan. But as the security situation deteriorated, the number of refugees swelled again, reaching some 2.6 million by the fall of 2015. Most Afghans who flee go to neighboring Pakistan and Iran, but increasingly they have also headed farther west. More than 178,000 Afghans applied for asylum in Europe in 2015, almost four times the number for the previous year, according to E.U. statistics. Some 5.8 million Afghans have voluntarily returned to Afghanistan since 2002 under a UNHCR repatriation program. But many have also been forced back: Last year, nearly 260,000 undocumented Afghans were deported from Pakistan and Iran alone," Mae Jeong writes for the New York Times.
"Pakistan believes that Afghanistan colludes with India to destabilize Pakistan, and Pakistan has kept millions of Afghan refugees on its soil with little perceived recognition and appreciation. Afghanistan has the world’s second-largest refugee population; they were recently eclipsed by Syria. The main reason is Afghanistan has been at war for nearly forty years. Afghanistan also has a huge internally displaced population challenge. Kabul has swelled to more than four million people. The unemployment rate is around 40 percent. It’s a major potential humanitarian crisis that hasn’t been adequately addressed," Christopher D. Kolenda said in this CFR interview.
"How [National Unity Government] leaders deal with the security crisis, amid their own internal disagreements and weakening legitimacy, will determine Afghanistan's future. Most Afghans still prefer the post-Bonn order that has governed Afghanistan since the Taliban. People prefer a democratic state, despite its inadequacies. Ordinary Afghans, the ones legitimising the government through high turnout in elections, accept the current system and support the state. That's why the NUG, as a symbol of the first peaceful transition of political power in Afghan history, should continue for its constitutionally defined term. Even its strongest political opponents - groups such as the Enlightenment Movement - agree that the NUG must serve its full five years," Waliullah Rahmani and David Kilcullen write for Al Jazeera.