Pakistan detains over 30,000 Afghan migrants, UNHCR reports

File Photo.

Pakistani authorities have detained more than 30,000 Afghan migrants since December 31, as per a recent United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report.

Over the past three months, around 493,000 migrants have either been repatriated to Afghanistan or expelled from Pakistan.

Migrants returning to Afghanistan are encountering severe hardships, including lack of shelter, especially challenging during the winter months.

Allahdad, a returnee now in Herat province after two months in Pakistani detention, expressed the difficulties faced. “We’re suffering from cold, hunger, homelessness, and various difficulties. We lack basic necessities like flour, money, and shelter. Life is extremely tough,” he said.

The UNHCR estimates nearly 800,000 migrants will return to Afghanistan by July 2024, with urgent assistance needed to avert risks to their children’s lives. Some of the expelled migrants recount exploitation and financial distress.

“I paid 150,000 rupees to release my brother from police custody. Our camp of fifty families received minimal aid, and our needs for food and fuel remain unaddressed,” shared Esamatullah, an expelled migrant.

Migrant rights activists have criticized the winter expulsions as violations of international conventions. The interim government of Pakistan has started expelling 1.7 million Afghan migrants, exacerbating the challenges for returnees facing harsh winter conditions in Afghanistan.