Afghan migrants in Pakistan call on UN special coordinator to address their plight

Afghan immigrants in Pakistan on Thursday urged the UN Special Coordinator for Afghanistan, Feridun Sinirlioglu, to address the challenges faced by Afghan migrants in Pakistan in his forthcoming report.

They expressed deep concern about the plight of immigrants in Pakistan, asserting that their voices have gone unheard by institutions and nations alike.

The Council of Afghan Immigrants in Pakistan has made several appeals by sending letters to the United Nations Secretary-General, urging the organization to pay heed to the situation of Afghan immigrants in Pakistan.

One such case is Zohra Akhtari, a women’s rights activist in Afghanistan, who was twice imprisoned by the Taliban in Kabul in protest against restrictions on women’s work and education. In January 2022, she and her family of seven were compelled to seek refuge in Pakistan.

For eight months, Zohra Akhtari lived in a makeshift tent in the heart of Islamabad. After authorities dismantled the migrants’ tent, she had to rent a modest house in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. This small, minimally equipped residence is now home to Zohra Akhtari, her husband, and their five children.

Zohra Akhtari conveys her expectations for the UN special coordinator to incorporate the distressing situation of Afghan immigrants in Pakistan into his findings.

“We are deeply concerned, especially after the government of Pakistan set a deadline of November 1 for migrants to leave the country and return to Afghanistan. We implore the UN special coordinator not to forget the Afghan migrants and to include the section on Afghan immigrants in their reports to the United Nations Security Council,” stressed Akhtari.

Benazir Akhtari, the 18-year-old daughter of this family, bears the responsibility of supporting her family of seven through her education. She expresses apprehension about the constant pressure from Pakistani authorities and calls on the United Nations to address the situation of Afghan immigrants.

“I beseech the United Nations to halt the deportation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and to address their predicaments. Due to the absence of legal documents, we face daily harassment and threats of detention or even deportation. It is imperative that countries accepting immigrants address the cases of individuals who are in peril,” emphasized Benazir, an Afghan migrant in Pakistan.

The attached image illustrates the protest by Afghan immigrants against the United Nations Migration Agency in Pakistan on Wednesday. Afghan citizens have voiced their concerns regarding the perceived inaction of the United Nations and have called for an end to the forced deportation process by the Pakistani government.

Conversely, the Council of Afghan Migrants in Pakistan reports having dispatched multiple letters to the United Nations Secretary-General and the nations receiving immigrants, seeking intervention in the immigrants’ predicament. However, these efforts have yet to yield results.

“We have persistently implored the international community, the UN Secretary-General, and the host nations of immigrants to not merely observe and condemn the immigrants’ challenges but to take prompt action by relocating them in accordance with their asylum cases. This proactive approach would also help mitigate Pakistan’s concerns,” remarked Mir Ahmad Raufi, the head of the Council of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan.

It is anticipated that the UN special coordinator for Afghanistan, Feridun Sinirlioglu, will present his findings on the situation in Afghanistan to the UN Security Council next month, following which the UN will convene a meeting related to the situation in Afghanistan.

The Afghan immigrants in Pakistan strongly appeal to Sinirlioglu to include the precarious situation of these immigrants in his forthcoming report.