Afghan refugees should be treated well in Pakistan: Karzai

Photo: Reuters.

Former president Hamid Karzai on Monday expressed his grave concerns over the recent detention of a number of refugees in Pakistan, urging the Pakistani government to treat the Afghan refugees based on international laws.

The former president said in a tweet that based on reports, at least 1,100 Afghan refugees, including women and children, have been arrested and imprisoned in Sindh, Pakistan.

Karzai also asked the United Nations and human rights organizations to protect Afghan refugees in Pakistan and defend their rights.

The number of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has significantly increased since last August after the fall of the previous government. Thousands of Afghanistan citizens, including journalists, former security force members and women rights activists are waiting in the neighboring country for their cases to be processed in European countries and the US.

In May, a report by the European Union Agency for Asylum, EUAA, said that from January 2021 and February 2022, UNHCR documented 117,547 new arrivals from Afghanistan in Pakistan, with a significant peak of 35,289 persons in August 2021.

In recent years, Pakistan has shifted its policy towards Afghan refugees. Between early 2017 and January 2022, the country reportedly fenced around 90% of its border with Afghanistan, making formal and informal border crossings much more difficult, according to the European agency. However, undocumented crossings continue to occur due to the ‘porous’ nature of the border.

As of January 2022, there were nearly three million Afghans living in Pakistan, including around 1.4 million of them with Proof of Registration (PoR), at least 840,000 hold an Afghan Citizen Card (ACC), and an estimated 775,000 are undocumented, EUAA report said.

While PoR and ACC cardholders are offered limited protection, mainly from refoulement, the agency said undocumented Afghans are exposed to arrest, detention and deportation.

Reports indicate thousands of Afghans cross the Torkham and Spin Boldak crossings on a daily basis, most of whom do not hold valid entry permits and visas.