UN calls on Pakistan to halt expulsion of Afghan refugees

afghan refugees in pakistan

The United Nations has voiced concern about the welfare of Afghan citizens who have arrived in Afghanistan amid Pakistan’s deportation of Afghan refugees and called for the suspension of the expulsion of Afghan refugees, Afghanistan-based Khaama Press reported.

UN called on the Pakistan government to halt the expulsion of more than one million Afghan refugees, at least during the winter season. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stressed that Pakistan should halt the expulsion of Afghan refugees.

The UN has raised concerns as Pakistani authorities have announced their intention to continue the expulsion of one million illegal refugees residing in Pakistan, according to Khaama Press report.

On November 22, Balochistan Caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai said that the second phase of a crackdown against illegal foreigners has been initiated and the government is planning to deport one million illegal foreigners by January 2024, Pakistan-based Geo News reported.

More than 340,000 illegal migrants, particularly Afghans, have voluntarily left or been deported from Pakistan after the Pakistan caretaker government announced its decision to deport undocumented refugees on October 5.

Speaking to reporters, Jan Achakzai said all government agencies are involved in the crackdown on the illegal migrants, Geo News reported.

He further said, “Those under any delusion that they will dodge crackdown live in fool’s paradise.” Achakzai stated that the repatriation of unregistered Afghan nations is taking place via the Chaman border. However, the process slowed down in the past few days.

The statement of Achakzai comes despite the United Nations Refugee Agency previously urging Pakistan to halt the expulsion of Afghan refugees during the winter season, citing the harsh Afghan winter conditions that can be life-threatening.

The spokesperson for the UNHCR called winter an inappropriate time for expulsions and stated, “We are talking about desperate women, children, and men on the move, leaving Pakistan in droves.”

Notably, nearly half a million Afghan migrants have been expelled from Pakistan in less than two months, with reports indicating that 90 per cent of these migrants lack shelter at the Torkham border crossing, according to Khaama Press report.

Approximately four million Afghan migrants and refugees are living in Pakistan, with around 1.7 million of them lacking the necessary documentation to reside in the country.

Pakistani authorities started detaining and expelling migrants from Karachi from November 1 after the expiration of a set deadline and thousands of Afghan migrants have been expelled since then.

Human Rights activists have filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan to halt the expulsions, Khaama Press reported. However, the apex court has not yet scheduled the petition for review.

Many international organizations and institutions have condemned Pakistan’s decision to expel Afghan migrants. They have raised concerns about the situation for returnees as the winter season approaches in Afghanistan.

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