U.S. launches emergency hotline for Afghans facing deportation from Pakistan

The U.S. State Department has established an “emergency hotline” for Afghan nationals awaiting American visas as Pakistan intensifies its campaign to deport undocumented migrants.

The Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs of the Department announced the hotline’s availability Monday through Saturday from 8 AM to midnight Islamabad time in a social media post.

“The Department of State has launched an emergency hotline for Afghans facing deportation or detainment in Pakistan who are in a U.S. immigration and resettlement pathway,” the Department stated.

This development follows Islamabad’s declaration of intent to deport over a million undocumented refugees, primarily Afghans, amid a diplomatic dispute with the Taliban over allegations of harboring anti-Pakistan militants. The hotline is designed to provide assistance to Afghans in a U.S. immigration and resettlement pathway facing deportation or detainment in Pakistan.

Expressing concern over the dire situation confronting undocumented Afghan refugees expelled by Pakistan, Hsiao-Wei Lee, the Country Director of the World Food Program, highlighted the challenges they face upon returning to Afghanistan amidst a harsh winter with minimal resources.

“Returning to Afghanistan at the worst of times, with no food, few resources, and nowhere to go. It is particularly dire as the harsh Afghan winter is only weeks away, and the country is still reeling from devastating earthquakes, a battered economy, and a worsening climate crisis,” emphasized Hsiaowei Lee.

Since October 1, over 370,000 Afghans have fled Pakistan, exacerbating the challenges faced by a nation grappling with an impending winter, numerous natural disasters, and a reduction in humanitarian aid. The emergency hotline aims to provide timely support and assistance to Afghan nationals navigating the complexities of immigration and resettlement amid the ongoing crisis.