24% of returnees from Pakistan are children under 5: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) in a new report reveals that a significant influx of 374,600 migrants has returned to Afghanistan between September and November 18, 2023, following Pakistan’s directive to repatriate undocumented immigrants. The report underscores a noteworthy concern, indicating that 24 percent of the repatriated individuals are children under the age of five.

The report says that these returnees find themselves in temporary shelters within reception centers or camps, facing vulnerable living conditions. The report added that 48% of those returned were women.

Recognizing the urgent healthcare needs of this vulnerable population, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its Health Cluster partners say that between November 1 and 21, 2023, they provided crucial health services to 92,138 returnees, with a focus on six regions: eastern, southern, western, southeastern, northern, and central regions. Of this group, 56.2% were female.

Despite efforts by WHO and its partners, the report says that significant public health risks persist among the vulnerable returnee populations, including infectious disease outbreaks, noncommunicable diseases, malnutrition, and mental health problems.

Critical challenges include the lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities, posing immediate threats to health and well-being, the report says.

WHO says urgent support is required, and that it has requested a funding of $10 million for the next six months to address the pressing healthcare needs of this vulnerable population.

The deportation of Afghan migrants from Pakistan persisted as Pakistani media reported that 2,127 undocumented immigrants were repatriated to Afghanistan on Saturday, Nov. 25.

The repatriations took place through the Chaman and Torkham border crossings, indicating an increase from the 1,400 migrants deported on Nov. 24.

Notably, on the previous day, no migrants were deported through the Torkham crossing due to new verification rules imposed by the Taliban. However, the repatriation process resumed on Saturday.