Thursday, November 30, 2023

Pakistan’s Expulsion of Afghan Refugees Ignites International Outcry

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Recent actions taken by Pakistan to forcibly expel foreign migrants, including Afghan refugees without legal documentation, have triggered international reactions, as reported by TOLO News.

The United States State Department’s spokesperson, Mathew Miller, responded to the forced deportation of Afghans and called on Pakistan to adhere to its obligations regarding the treatment of refugees and to uphold the principle of non-refoulement.

“We join all of our partners in urging every state, including Pakistan, to fulfill their respective obligations in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers and to respect the principle of non-refoulement. We strongly encourage Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, including Pakistan, to permit the entry of Afghans seeking international protection and to collaborate with international humanitarian organizations to provide much-needed assistance,” stated Miller during a press conference.

The United Nations also expressed its concern regarding the forced deportation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan. Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the Secretary-General, conveyed their apprehension, citing the unpreparedness of the receiving country and the dire humanitarian and human rights situation. UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations have engaged with Pakistani authorities on this issue.

Additionally, the consulate of the Islamic Emirate in Karachi pointed out that the Sindh government has instructed the police not to harass Afghan individuals holding Proof of Registration (POR), Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC), and passports.

The Afghan Refugee Council in Pakistan highlighted the distress and fear faced by Afghan immigrants residing in Pakistan. Mir Ahmad Rauf, the council’s leader, described the chaotic and critical situation, with many experiencing mental distress.

Asefa Stanikzai, an expert on Afghan issues, emphasized that the mass deportations of immigrants from Pakistan violate international conventions.

The Pakistani government initiated the arrest of illegal Afghan immigrants, with over 100 arrests reported in the Quetta suburbs, according to the Pakistan Interior Ministry. Since November 1, more than 4,000 Afghan immigrants have been deported from Pakistan, leading to a distressing situation.

Last month, the Pakistani government issued an ultimatum to all undocumented immigrants to leave the country by October 31, under the threat of imprisonment and deportation. The Interior Ministry reported that 140,322 people had left voluntarily.

Out of the over 4 million Afghans residing in Pakistan, an estimated 1.7 million lack proper documentation. Many of these individuals fled Afghanistan during the country’s prolonged internal conflict, which began in the late 1970s and continued after the Taliban’s takeover following the US withdrawal in 2021.

The decision to expel illegal foreign nationals followed a series of terrorist attacks in Pakistan this year, with 14 being suicide bombings, some involving Afghan nationals.

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