Afghan Refugees in Pakistan Struggle Against Forced Deportation and Uncertain Futures
November 1, 2023
Cited article by Associated Press
HRRC condemns the Pakistani government's harsh treatment of Afghan migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. We urge for an immediate end to human rights abuses against all Afghani people in the country.
The Pakistani government has initiated a widespread crackdown on undocumented or unregistered foreigners, predominantly affecting Afghan migrants residing in the country. With a deadline approaching by November 1st, many Afghans have started returning home, cramming into trucks and buses to cross the border. Despite Pakistani officials assuring that the deportations will occur in a phased and orderly manner, the situation has caused distress among Afghans awaiting relocation to the United States under a special refugee program, leading to protests due to delays in the approval of their U.S. visas.
The new anti-migrant crackdown has caused a sharp increase in Afghans leaving Pakistan, raising concerns about the fate of over 2 million undocumented Afghans in the country. The situation also highlights the challenges faced by Afghans amid a severe humanitarian crisis in their home country, with limited opportunities, particularly for women and girls, due to Taliban-imposed restrictions on education, public spaces, and civil society organizations. Pakistan's Interior Ministry had given all undocumented migrants a 28-day deadline to leave voluntarily, leading to increased police abuse against Afghans, including harassment, assault, and arbitrary detention. Even Afghans registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are not immune, facing detention or deportation. The looming deportation has left thousands of Afghans in fear, with concerns raised about their safety and well-being upon return to Afghanistan. The UNHCR and human rights organizations have called for the protection of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, urging the Pakistani government to end police abuses, drop the deportation deadline, and resume registrations of Afghan asylum seekers.