UN agencies ‘ready’ to help Pakistan in registering, managing Afghan nationals - GulfToday

UN agencies ‘ready’ to help Pakistan in registering, managing Afghan nationals


An Afghan family sits on a vehicle in Jamrud area of Khyber district, as they return to Afghanistan. AFP

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are ready to support Pakistan’s government in registering and managing the Afghan nationals, the agencies said on Saturday.

The statement came amidst the government’s crackdown on illegal immigrants residing in the country since decades.

Both the UN agencies stated in a joint statement that they had a “longstanding and strong collaboration” with Pakistan and stood ready to “provide support in developing a comprehensive and sustainable mechanism to register and manage Afghan nationals, including those who may be in need of international protection.”

It added that both the UNHCR and IOM were appealing to Pakistan to “continue protection of all vulnerable Afghans who have sought safety in the country and could be at imminent risk if forced to return.”

Afghans-refugees- Afghan nationals along with their families stand along a road near a vehicle in Jamrud area of Khyber district. AFP

Earlier, Pakistan had said that it would repatriate all illegal immigrants including hundreds of thousands of Afghan nationals in orderly phases rather than in one go.

Pakistan’s announcement on Tuesday of a Nov.1 deadline for people to leave or face forcible expulsion has frayed already soured relations with Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, who said the threat to force out Afghan migrants was “unacceptable.”

“It will be done in phases,” the foreign office spokeswoman, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told reporters in Islamabad. She added the process would follow an orderly manner, in contrast to what she called some misconceptions that all of them would just be expelled in one go.

She said it could start with people with criminal records, such as someone involved in a crime or smuggling. “We will be looking into each case individually,” she added.

Afghans-Torkhamborder Afghan families board into a bus to depart for their homeland, in Karachi. AP

Forcibly deporting Afghans from Pakistan could lead to severe human rights violations — including the separation of families and deportation of minors, the United Nations said on Saturday.

The government denies targeting Afghans and says the focus is on people who are in the country illegally, regardless of their nationality. It said it is setting up a hotline and offering rewards to people who tip off authorities about such migrants.

The UN agencies said Afghanistan is going through a severe humanitarian crisis, particularly for women and girls, who are banned by the Taliban from education beyond sixth grade, most public spaces and many jobs.

“Such plans would have serious implications for all who have been forced to leave the country and may face serious protection risks upon return,” it said, referring to Pakistan’s crackdown.

They acknowledged Pakistan’s “sovereign prerogative” over domestic policies and said they are ready to help register and manage Afghan nationals.

The IOM and the UN refugee agency called on countries to “suspend forcible returns of Afghan nationals and ensure any possible returns to the country take place in a safe, dignified and voluntary manner.”

Landlords and real estate owners in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, have received notices telling them to evict “illegal Afghans” and their families by the end of the month or face action.

Police have asked clerics in some of the city’s mosques to tell worshippers of their duty to inform on Afghans in their neighbourhoods.

Over 2,000 people were arrested across the country since the crackdown began earlier this week.

Police in southern Sindh province have detained some 1,100 Afghan nationals, according to Inspector General Riffat Mukhtar.

He said the courts released about 300 after they provided their documents. The rest remain in prison awaiting deportation to Afghanistan.

In Islamabad, police are using social media and TV tickers to create public awareness about the anti-migrant policy, said force spokesperson Taqi Jawad. He said police have so far not used mosques and clerics for this purpose.

Of the 1,126 Afghans detained in Islamabad during the past few days, 503 have been charged with staying in the country illegally. They will stay behind bars until their deportation said Jawad, who denied that officers are harassing Afghans.


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