Over 1,500 Afghan migrants deported from Pakistan in a day

Afghan immigrants returning from Pakistan through Spin Boldak border crossing in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Nov. 5, 2023

Pakistani media reported that on Friday, Dec. 22, a total of 1,562 undocumented Afghan migrants were deported from Pakistan, marking a continuation of the high deportation rate observed the previous day.

These migrants re-entered Afghanistan through the Spin Boldak and Torkham border crossings, located in the Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces, respectively.

This influx is part of the over 472,000 Afghans who have returned from Pakistan between September 15 and December 16, primarily via the same crossings, according to UN figures.

The mass return follows the Pakistan government’s early October announcement to deport around 1.3 million undocumented Afghans, starting November 1, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The increasing number of returnees, comprising both enforced deportations and voluntary returns due to issues such as tenancy and fear of harassment, has escalated humanitarian needs at the border and within Afghan provinces like Kandahar and Nangarhar.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has highlighted the challenges faced by these returnees, including restricted movement and targeted harassment by Pakistani authorities.

Many of the returnees are temporarily staying in Taliban-run shelters before reaching their final destinations. They are in urgent need of relief commodities and psychosocial support (PSS), facing public health risks like infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases, malnutrition, and mental health issues.

The large-scale return has placed significant strain on resources in areas such as Kabul, Kandahar, Kunar, and Nangarhar provinces, affecting access to essential services including health, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). In response, a humanitarian assistance border consortium led by USAID/BHA and IOM launched an appeal on November 8 for nearly $111 million to support the anticipated 770,000 Afghan returnees through July 2024.