Home Afghan Refugees Pakistan demands ‘more’ global support to handle Afghan refugees

Pakistan demands ‘more’ global support to handle Afghan refugees

Pakistan demands ‘more’ global support to handle Afghan refugees

UN refugee agency chief meets with Premier Sharif, others in Islamabad to discuss refugees issue

Aamir Latif 

Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan

UN refugee agency chief Filippo Grandi on Monday held a series of meetings with Pakistani leadership, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to discuss the situation arising from Islamabad’s decision to expel illegal foreign refugees, mainly the Afghans.

Grandi, who arrived in Islamabad on a three-day visit on Sunday, also met with Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar to discuss a host of issues related to the Afghan refugees, with Pakistan demanding “more” global assistance to handle the lingering issue, Qaisar Afridi, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told Anadolu.

This is the first visit of the UNHCR chief to Pakistan after the latter last October announced the repatriation of Afghan refugees illegally staying in the country.

The UNHCR opposes Islamabad’s move, saying: “The return must be voluntary and without any pressure.”

So far, according to Interior Ministry statistics, over 500,000 Afghan refugees have returned to their homeland.

“During the meetings, the government of Pakistan stressed the need for more international support to handle the refugees issue, and the High Commissioner (Grandi) acknowledged that more needs to be done in this regard,” Afridi said.

On Sunday, the UNHCR chief met with representatives of the Afghan refugees in the northwestern Peshawar city bordering Afghanistan, who apprised him of their problems in Pakistan.

He also met Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Amir Muqam, who cited “serious economic difficulties” as a key hurdle in hosting the millions of refugees residing in Pakistan since 1979, according to a statement from the ministry. SAFRON Ministry also deals with Afghan refugees.

According to the latest UN figures, some 1.3 million Afghans enjoy the status of registered refugees, while another 880,000 have legal status to stay in Pakistan.

Pakistani officials claim that around 700,000 Afghans seeking asylum have trickled into Pakistan since the Taliban takeover in August 2021. However, only 75,000 have so far moved to other countries.

Read: 400000 Unregistered Afghan refugees are settled in Karachi – Apex Committee


Aamir Latif is a Karachi-based senior journalist. He represents Anadolu, a Turkish news agency

Courtesy: Anadolu Agency (Posted on July 08, 2024)



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