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Pakistan: authorities must not carry out threat to deport Afghan refugees

More than 3.7 million Afghans live in Pakistan, large numbers of whom are unregistered 

Many Afghan refugees in Pakistan already experience harassment and arrest 

‘A forced return to Afghanistan could put them at grave risk’ - Nadia Rahman

Responding to reports that the authorities in Pakistan have ordered all unregistered Afghan refugees to leave the country by next month, Nadia Rahman, Amnesty International’s Interim Regional Deputy Director in South Asia, said:

"Afghans in Pakistan are fleeing persecution by the Taliban - they are living incredibly precarious lives where they are either having to undergo arduous processes for registering as refugees in Pakistan, or are stuck in lengthy processes waiting to obtain relocation to another country. 

“A forced return to Afghanistan could put them at grave risk.

“Amnesty International urges the Government of Pakistan to continue its historic support for Afghan refugees by enabling them to live with dignity and free from the fear of deportation to Afghanistan where they face persecution by the Taliban.

“Amnesty International also reiterates its calls to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to expedite registration and reviews of applications from Afghans seeking international protection in Pakistan.

“The international community must act immediately to keep up their initial promises of providing protection to those fleeing persecution in Afghanistan.” 

Last December, Amnesty raised its concerns over the situation of Afghan asylum-seekers and refugees in Pakistan in a letter to the Pakistani authorities. 

Interior Minister’s announcement

Yesterday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced a crackdown order on “illegal immigrants”, including Afghans in Pakistan. Following the Taliban’s complete takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, many Afghans fled to Pakistan where they’ve been subjected to waves of arbitrary detention, arrest and the threat of deportation. Amnesty has documented the harassment meted out to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Because of considerable delays in registration processes, most Afghans in Pakistan don’t hold “Proof of Registration documents or Afghan Citizen Card cards, the identity documents that entitle Afghan refugees to remain in Pakistan. Many arrived in Pakistan with ordinary visas, which have since expired. The UN refugee agency has issued a “non-return advisory” warning for Afghans outside of their home country following the Taliban takeover. According to the agency, there are more than 3.7 million Afghans in Pakistan, some of whom left Afghanistan for economic reasons. Only 1.4 million are formally registered.

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