On Saturday, the United Nations refugee agency and the UN migration agency jointly called upon Pakistan to maintain its protection of all Afghan individuals who are vulnerable and have sought refuge in the country. These individuals could face imminent risks if they are compelled to return to Afghanistan.
In a joint statement issued from Bangkok, the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned that such plans would have serious implications for all who have been forced to leave the country and may face serious protection risks upon return.
The UN agencies’ statement came after Pakistan announced plans to repatriate undocumented foreigners living in the South Asian country.
Islamabad has set Nov.1 as the deadline for all undocumented migrants, mainly Afghans, to voluntarily leave the country, warning of arrests and deportations after that date.
“Afghanistan is going through a severe humanitarian crisis with several human rights challenges, particularly for women and girls,” said the UN agencies.
The UN agencies said they acknowledged Pakistan’s sovereign prerogative over domestic policies and offered their support in developing a comprehensive and sustainable mechanism to register and manage Afghan nationals, including those who may be in need of international protection.
“UNHCR and IOM appreciate Pakistan’s generous hospitality towards Afghan nationals for over four decades, despite challenges, and repeats the call for all returns to be voluntary, safe and dignified — without any pressure, to ensure protection for those seeking safety,” it further said.
“The forced repatriation of Afghan nationals has the potential to result in severe human rights violations, including the separation of families and deportation of minors,” it added.
The UN agencies also call on all 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.
On Wednesday, Balochistan’s caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai warned that the government will confiscate the properties and businesses of undocumented foreigners who had not left the country by Nov. 1.
On Friday, Pakistani authorities at the Torkham border told Anadolu that hundreds of Afghans, including women and children, crossed the border and returned to their home country.