Repatriation and Reconstruction: Afghan Youth as a ‘Burnt Generation’ in Post-conflict Return

Sarah Kamal

in Dispossession and Displacement

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780197264591
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734397 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Occasional Papers

Repatriation and Reconstruction: Afghan Youth as a ‘Burnt Generation’ in Post-conflict Return

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Voluntary repatriation has been framed as the optimal and durable solution in internal politics and legal frameworks since the 1980s. While still generally put into practice as the solution of choice, repatriation is no longer perceived as an unproblematic end to the refugee cycle. With the growing awareness of repatriation’s less than exemplary methods, the sometimes coercive nature of it, and the unstable post-conflict conditions awaiting returnees, voluntary repatriation has waned over the years. However, there is an insufficient understanding of the long-term prospects of the returnees and the repatriation perspectives of the young refugee. This chapter hence explores repatriation within the perspectives of Afghan youths. It presents stories of four Afghan youths: in 2003 as they face the prospect of voluntary repatriation in the hands of the Iranian government; in 2006 as they situated themselves vis-á-vis Afghanistan in the early flush of return to their homeland; and in 2007 as they narrated their hopes and aspirations within their growing understanding of their new context. The stories presented in this chapter offer a longitudinal examination of repatriation from the perspective of the long-term forced migrant youth and a window to the lives of young Afghans repatriating from Iran.

Keywords: voluntary repatriation; repatriation; returnees; young refugee; Afghan youths; return; homeland; migrant youth; Iran

Chapter.  8112 words. 

Subjects: Migration Studies

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