Hundreds of Afghan refugees return from Pakistan

It is estimated up to 700,000 refugees would return to Afghanistan in 2017

Hundreds of Afghan refugees return from Pakistan

World Bulletin / News Desk

Hundreds of Afghan refugees have returned to their home country as voluntary repatriation of the refugees staying in Pakistan has been resumed after winter break.

Already, hundreds of thousands of refugees have returned to their war-riddled country citing growing persecution in Pakistan as the main reason.

Only in the latter half of the last year, some 600,000 refugees returned to Afghanistan after living in Pakistan for over three decades.

Afghan officials said over a thousand more individuals returned on Monday.

It is estimated up to 700,000 refugees would go back to Afghanistan in the current year that is already heavily reliant on foreign aid, while many parts of the country remain engulfed in brutal insurgency.

Fareedullah Khan, an official at the directorate of refugees and repatriation in eastern Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan, informed that 68 registered refugee families and nine non-registered refugee families returned to Afghanistan on Monday.

“As per the plan, we are providing necessary financial aid and food items to the needy refugee families," he said.

    Nearly 19,000 Afghan refugees have so far registered themselves in the recently resumed phase of voluntary repatriation, Waqar Maroof, head of Afghan Commissionerate in Pakistan told Anadolu Agency.

So far, he said, around 1,200 refugees have crossed into Afghanistan via northwestern Torkham border.

“This (repatriation) is purely on voluntary basis. Pakistan is fully committed to a tripartite refugee agreement, and no refugee possessing legal documents will be forced to leave the country," he maintained.

There are around 2.5 million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, making it the largest refugee population after the Syrians in Turkey.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 3.8 million refugees have been repatriated to Afghanistan since 2002 but many returned to Pakistan due to ongoing violence, unemployment and a lack of education.

Last month, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) held the government of Pakistan as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) responsible for abusing, threatening and driving out hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees back to their restive country.

In a 76-page report, “Pakistan Coercion, UN Complicity: The Mass Forced Return of Afghan Refugees”, Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at the HRW and author of the report, blamed both Pakistan and the UNHCR for promoting the exodus.

“Pakistan is bound by the universally binding customary law rule of refoulement to not return anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment, or a threat to life. This includes an obligation not to pressure individuals, including registered refugees, into returning to places where they face a serious risk of such harm," the report reads.

Many among the latest lot of returnees expressed mixed feelings about the developing situation. “I am little bit happy because after all this is my home country, but honestly speaking I am worried about the future of my children," Lal Khan, newly repatriated Afghan said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Nisan 2017, 12:07