US urges Pakistan to respect refugee rights as Afghan deportations continue

A group of Afghan migrants at a camp near the Spin Boldak border crossing in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Nov. 2023.

Vedant Patel, a spokesperson for the US State Department, at a press conference on Tuesday, expressed the United States’ expectation that Pakistan would uphold the principle of “non-refoulement” in its treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, particularly in light of the ongoing deportation of Afghan migrants from Pakistan.

When questioned about the US stance concerning the ongoing deportation of Afghan migrants from Pakistan, Patel emphasized, “We join our international partners in calling on all nations, including Pakistan, to fulfill their respective obligations in their handling of refugees and asylum seekers and to honor the principle of non-refoulement.”

He further emphasized, “We strongly encourage Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, including Pakistan, to permit entry for Afghans in search of international protection and to collaborate with relevant international humanitarian organizations.”

According to official data from Pakistani authorities, over the past week, a reported minimum of 200,000 undocumented Afghan migrants have been subjected to deportation from Pakistan as the deportation process continues.