Deadline for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan Pushed to June 30 as Repatriation Continues

The government of Pakistan has announced an extension of the stay for registered Afghan refugees within its borders. The Proof of Registration Cards, which were set to expire on April 1, 2024, will now remain valid until June 30, 2024. This move comes as part of Pakistan’s broader efforts to manage the presence of Afghan nationals in the country, amidst a complex geopolitical landscape.

The decision to extend the deadline provides a temporary reprieve for the Afghan refugee population, which has been facing increasing pressure to return to their homeland. Over the past few days, nearly 6,000 Afghan refugees have made the journey back to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran, highlighting the ongoing repatriation process.

The extension is particularly noteworthy as it follows a period of heightened deportations. Just two days prior, over 1,000 Afghan migrants were forcibly returned to Afghanistan through the Spin Boldak border crossing. These actions are part of Pakistan’s third leg of the deportation drive, aimed at addressing the long-standing issue of undocumented aliens within its territory.

The extension of the PoRs validity will allow the cardholders to continue accessing essential services such as education and banking during their stay in Pakistan. This decision is particularly crucial as these cardholders are scheduled to be repatriated to Afghanistan in the third phase of the program aimed at repatriating illegal foreign nationals who have been residing in Pakistan for a long time.

The plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has been a matter of international concern. Reports have emerged of mass detentions, property seizures, and identity document destruction, leading to the expulsion of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers. Since mid-September 2023, more than 375,000 Afghans have been forced out of Pakistan, with 20,000 of them deported.

The situation for Afghan refugees has been further complicated by the crackdown on foreign nationals residing illegally in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has been clear in its stance that the policy targets only those without proper documentation. However, there have been instances where even those with recognized refugee cards have faced challenges.

The recent extension is a critical juncture for Afghan refugees, as it offers additional time to either obtain legal documents or finalize evacuation agreements to third countries. The international community, including the United States, has been involved in discussions with Pakistan regarding the refugee situation, emphasizing the need for a humane and orderly process.

As the deadline approaches, the fate of Afghan refugees hangs in the balance. The Pakistani government’s measures reflect a delicate balance between national security concerns and humanitarian obligations. The coming months will be crucial in determining the future of thousands of individuals who have sought refuge in Pakistan, often for decades, and now face an uncertain future.

The extended deadline is a testament to the complex dynamics at play in the region. It underscores the challenges faced by host countries like Pakistan, which have been grappling with the influx of refugees for years. The situation also highlights the broader issues of displacement and migration that continue to affect millions around the globe.

The extension of the stay for Afghan refugees in Pakistan is a significant development that offers a temporary respite for those affected. It is a reminder of the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the need for sustained international cooperation to address the challenges faced by refugees and host countries alike.

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