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  Pakistan: Afghan refugees continue to face arrests

Pakistan: Afghan refugees continue to face arrests

Published : Jul 11, 2016, 6:01 am IST
Updated : Jul 11, 2016, 6:01 am IST

Afghan refugees in Pakistan were still facing arrests and harassment as Islamabad extended their stay by six months, reports said.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan were still facing arrests and harassment as Islamabad extended their stay by six months, reports said.

Officials said steps were being taken to prevent police harassment of Afghan refugees, but those with no legal status still will be arrested and deported.

 

The Voice of America (VoA) reported that pressure had grown, particularly from host communities, calling for authorities to send Afghans to their home country, citing economic and security concerns.

Recent political tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have added to the challenges for one of the largest and most protracted refugee situations in the world, according to the United Nations.

But Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) ruling the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa border province where most of the Afghan families are settled, says that efforts were being made to ensure a “comfortable” stay for Afghans who were staying legally.

He told the VoA that he has met with and organised meetings between the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal and the provincial government and police chiefs to look into the problems, including allegations of police harassment and extortion. “There is no doubt that these are people living in desperate situations and they are not there out of their own will,” Mr Khan said.

 

Local and UN refugee officials estimate there are three million Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan, including an estimated one million undocumented Afghans. Most of the refugee families have been living in exile for nearly four decades, after fleeing conflicts and persecution in their homeland.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan, hosts most of the refugees, despite being the smallest of all the four Pakistani provinces. Mr Khan insisted, however, that hostility toward Afghan refugees within the host population has grown because authorities have found undocumented Afghans behind increasingly frequent incidents of kidnapping for ransom and terrorism, particularly in the provincial capital, Peshawar. Only about 6,000 refugees have returned home, compared with nearly 60,000 in 2015, prompting the UN refugee agency to double financial grants from $ 200 to $ 400 per person for the registered families opting to go back to Afghanistan.

 

Location: Pakistan, Islamabad