Due to armed conflict in Afghanistan, among various groups in 2015, there was 0.4 million internal displacement, adding with further 0.134 million in 2016, totaling to 1.2 million displacements. Unfortunately, Pakistani authorities also started a campaign to drive out Afghan refugees from the country. Since July 2016 nearly 600,000 Afghan has been forcibly returned to Afghanistan including 365,000 registered refugees, which is the world largest forced return of refugees in current years. (Human rights watch)
Such act of Pakistani authorities is a violation of human rights, refugee’s convention, and refugee’s law. Now, these refugees face several snags back home including violence, armed conflict, and displacement inside the country. Most of them have houses in the areas where conflict among different groups is on topmost, so it’s difficult to manage their lives without having homes, basic facilities, education of children’s etc.
Pakistan government should know that there are many factors which halt Afghan refugees to go back their home country. These factors are both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In Pakistan they have homes to live, income opportunities, educational opportunities, family ties with Pakistani’s, Pakistani lifestyle as they are living from last 35 years in Pakistan and most of them have well-established businesses. The factors in Afghanistan which stop them from voluntary repatriation are no homes, bad law & order situation, armed conflict between different groups, low-income opportunities, etc.
Pakistan needs to stop the abuse of Afghan refugees and protect the existing 1.1 million registered and 750,000 unregistered Afghan refugees which are already in search of protection.
Pakistan, a country which is famous for generosity, hospitality and friendliness hosted Afghan refugees for decades, unleashed the largest crackdown to force refugees for repatriation, which made the two countries and its inhabitants far away from one another. The Pakistani government has some concern about the security situation in the country and links it to Afghan refugees but forced return is not a solution to this problem.
UNHCR also didn’t play its role to noise the situation as refoulment and supported the forced repatriation with doubling the cash support to $400 which contradicts UNHCR basic Refugee’s protection mandate.
Pakistan wants Afghan refugees should leave the country by 31 December 2017 which will again pave the way to forced repatriation, a violation of human rights law and refugees protection law. Pakistan needs to start voluntary repatriation campaign with the support of UNHCR and ensure the protection of Afghan refugees.