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The return by Verhey, Joost

If you've read khaled Hosseini bestsellers A thousand splendid suns or Kite Runner, than the documentary film THE RETURN by Joost Verhey is a must see. THE RETURN takes you back to the Afghan refugee camps in 1989/1990. At the time, the extend of the refugee problem was simply staggering; yet, hardly noticed by the western world. As a one-off situation director and anthropologist Verhey visited several Afghan refugees camps, including Jalozai, in 1989, sketching the problems of those living in these camps.

Current Interest
Today we know the Taliban received most of their manpower from Madrasahs close to the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan's border region. During the 1990s the humanitarian conditions in these Afghan refugee camps where severe. There were no jobs, no food, no schools, health care was limited, housing and services were expensive. Within the context of this humanitarion catastophe, religious schools flourished, fueled by the absence of non-religious schools and the complete disarray of the war- scarred refugees. Many of these madrasahs prepared their students for holy war in Afghanistan.

Historic Interest
Still today, the refugee problem remains a significant issue for Afghanistan and its neighbors UNHCR statistcs. The refugee flow began as a trickle in April 1978 after the coup by the PDPA, reaching a peak during the first half of 1981 when an estimated 4,700 crossed the Pakistan border daily. The flow ebbed and surged in response to Soviet offenses. At the time this film was made, the number of Afghan refugees was estimated at 3.2 million in Pakistan, 2.2. million in Iran, and several hundred thousands resettled in scattered communities throughout the world. In 1989 Afghans represented the largest single concentration of refugees in the world.

Political Interest
On many occasions history has proven that if large masses of people are living in disarray, scattered without home and economic prospect then war, nationalism and/or religious fundamentalism is at hand. This knowledge holds humanity responsibile for instable regions like Iraq, Dafur and many others to help prevent the conditions from deteriorating and spreading to neighboring regions.

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'The return' has been shown in theaters and on television in the Netherlands, England (BBC), Germany and Italy. Because Afghanistan was out of focus for the media in the 90's, we feel the film did not get the attention it deserved.

Verhey, Joost
Copyright Holder
MM Filmprodukties
52 min.
Year of release

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