Afghanistan’s embassies ‘deeply’ concerned about Pakistan’s move to expel refugees

Afghanistan’s migrants in Pakistan. File photo.

Afghanistan’s diplomatic missions abroad have issued a joint statement voicing their “deep concern” over the announcement this week of a deadline for the unregistered refugees from Afghanistan to leave Pakistan by the end of the month.

The Pakistani government, which is currently a caretaker administration, set a deadline for November 1 for all “illegal” migrants, including 1.73 million refugees from Afghanistan, to leave the country or face arrest and deportation.

However, on Friday, several refugees from Afghanistan, who were interviewed by Amu, said that despite having all their legal documents in place, they have received notices from landlords to leave their places of residence, including hotels and residential houses.

The joint statement of the “Coordination Council of the Diplomatic and Consular Missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said more than 1,000 people from Afghanistan including women and children have been detained over the past two weeks, even though many of them hold valid legal documents to live in Pakistan.

“Nationals of Afghanistan residing in Pakistan, the majority of whom fled the Taliban’s prosecution, are encountering pressing challenges that involve impediments and delays in formalizing their refugee status or exploring opportunities for resettlement in their destination countries,” the statement reads.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 1.6 million people from Afghanistan fled to neighboring countries after the fall of the republic government. Many of them settled in Pakistan and Iran.

To tackle the root cause of this, Afghanistan’s republic government’s diplomatic missions called on regional and international stakeholders to redouble “their efforts to facilitate the establishment of an inclusive and representative system in Afghanistan.”

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistan military’s media agency, said in a press release that Asim Munir, chief of Army Staff of Pakistan was brief during his visit to Karachi, for the Provincial Apex Committee, about the repatriation of “illegal foreigners.”

The mistreatment of refugees from Afghanistan by Pakistan has sparked international reactions. Amnesty International’s Interim Deputy Regional Director for research in South Asia, said the refugees from Afghanistan are living “incredibly precarious lives where they are having to undergo arduous processes for registering as refugees in Pakistan.”

Based on Pakistan’s decision, more than 1.73 million people from Afghanistan need to leave the hosting-country by the end of this month.

The joint statement of the diplomatic missions abroad called on Islamabad to preserve its generous support by “treating these refugees in a dignified manner.”

The statement echoed calls on the UNHCR to expedite the registration process for Nationals of Afghanistan seeking international protection within Pakistan.