Pakistan extends residency for Afghan migrants amid deportation concerns

Pakistan has extended the legal residence status of approximately 1.4 million registered Afghan migrants until the end of 2023, following a four-month delay. However, it continues to reject calls to stop deportations of all undocumented Afghans and other foreign nationals.

This extension offers respite to the refugee community amidst Pakistan’s crackdown on foreigners living in the country illegally, including an estimated 1.7 million Afghans.

The Pakistani government stated, “[The] government of Pakistan is pleased to extend the validity of the Proof of Registration, or PoR, cards issued to the registered Afghan refugees … till December 31, 2023.”

On October 3, 2023, Pakistan announced plans to repatriate “illegal foreigners.” This led to UNHCR and IOM issuing a joint statement urging Pakistan to protect Afghans in need, followed by a joint statement by UNHCR, IOM, and UNICEF focusing on the protection of children and families seeking safety in Pakistan.

Since this announcement, there has been an increase in Afghans crossing back into Afghanistan from Pakistan, including voluntary returns and a growing number of deportations. Many returning individuals are in need of urgent assistance and psychosocial support.

UNHCR estimates that 1.3 million undocumented Afghans reside in Pakistan. They anticipate that approximately 720,000 undocumented individuals and 50,000 voluntary returnees will require border support through July 2024.

To date, UNHCR reports that 286,700 Afghan migrants have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan.