Pakistan to continue deportation of undocumented Afghans despite UN appeal

Afghan returnees in Afghanistan. Photo: WFP

Pakistan’s foreign ministry has dismissed recent comments by the United Nations refugee chief regarding the suspension of the deportation of undocumented Afghan migrants, affirming that the repatriation process remains active.

“This is not true. It may be noted that no such understanding has been given by Pakistan to the UNHCR, including in recent meetings with the High Commissioner for Refugees,” said Mumtaz Zehra Baloch, as reported by Dawn.

Baloch emphasized that the repatriation plan continues to be implemented in an orderly and phased manner.

This statement follows an announcement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who had confirmed the suspension of the repatriation plan after meeting with Pakistani leaders at the conclusion of his three-day visit. Grandi expressed appreciation for what he believed was the suspension of the “Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan” and sought assurances that it would remain on hold, according to a UNHCR statement.

“He called for Pakistan’s proud tradition of hospitality towards those Afghans with international protection needs to continue,” the statement read.

Since October 2023, Pakistan has deported over 640,000 Afghan migrants, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).