Pakistan preparing to begin deporting ‘documented’ Afghan migrants: Report

A group of Afghan migrants deported from Pakistan. File photo.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan is preparing to launch the second phase of its deportation drive, aiming to repatriate nearly one million “documented” Afghans back to their homeland, according to Pakistani media reports.

District authorities and police have been directed to map and collect data on their whereabouts across the country, as reported by Dawn News.

An official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, informed Dawn News that district administrations and police have received instructions to expedite the mapping of Afghan Citizen Card (ACC) holders. While no specific start date has been announced, the campaign to repatriate hundreds of thousands of ACC holders is expected to begin in early to mid-summer, pending approval from the federal government.

“We have already started the mapping process,” said Abid Majeed, additional chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to Dawn. “It will pick up the pace after Ramadan, and we hope to complete the survey before April 30.”

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, reports that there are 2.18 million documented Afghan refugees in Pakistan. This figure includes 1.3 million refugees holding Proof of Registration (PoR) cards from a 2006-07 census and an additional 880,000 refugees granted ACCs during a registration drive in 2017.

Following the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, which led to the collapse of the neighboring republic, another influx of Afghans entered Pakistan. Pakistani officials estimate their number to be between 600,000 and 800,000, some with valid travel documents but facing an uncertain future.

Since last October, Pakistan has deported more than half a million undocumented Afghan migrants following its announcement of a crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Aid agencies report that the returned migrants are facing a lack of shelter, food, and job opportunities in Afghanistan.