Responding to reports that the Government of Pakistan has ordered all unregistered Afghan refugees to leave the country by November 2023, Nadia Rahman, Amnesty International’s Interim Deputy Regional Director for research 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.Nadia Rahman, Amnesty International’s Interim Deputy Regional Director for research in South Asia
“Afghans in Pakistan are in urgent need of greater support as the obstacles and delays they face in registering as refugees or for third country relocation have left them in a legal limbo and made them even more vulnerable to harassment and stigma. 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 (UNHCR) to expedite registration and reviews of applications from Afghans seeking international protection in Pakistan; to the Government of Pakistan to stop the crackdown against and the arrests and harassment of Afghan refugees; and to third countries offering relocation to Afghans abroad to expedite the issuance of their visas. The international community must act immediately to keep up their initial promises of providing protection to those fleeing persecution in Afghanistan.”
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti announced the crackdown order on “illegal immigrants” including Afghans in Pakistan. In recent years, many Afghans living in fear of persecution following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 have fled to Pakistan, where they have been subjected to waves of arbitrary detentions, arrests, and the threat of deportation. Because of considerable delays in the registration process, most do not hold Proof of Registration (PoR) or Afghan Citizen Card (ACC) cards, the identity documents that entitle Afghan refugees to remain regularly in Pakistan. Many arrived in Pakistan with regular visas, which have since expired.
Previously, Amnesty International has documented the harassment meted out to Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
The UNHCR has issued a non-return advisory for Afghans outside of their home country following the Taliban takeover. According to the UNHCR, there are more than 3.7 million Afghans in Pakistan, who fled Afghanistan for both economic and political reasons. Only 1.4 million of them are formally registered.
In December 2022, Amnesty International raised its concerns with regards to the situation of Afghan asylum seekers and refugees to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.