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Pakistan announces crackdown on migrants, UN warns of human rights violations if Afghans deported

The UN warned Pakistan that the deportation of Afghans could lead to a severe humanitarian crisis. Pakistan recently announced a major crackdown on the illegal migrants asking them to return to their own country by the end of this month or face deportation.

Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 Islamabad Published on: October 07, 2023 14:46 IST
Afghan families board into bus to depart for their
Image Source : AP Afghan families board into bus to depart for their homeland, in Karachi

The United Nations on Saturday (October 7) warned Pakistan that forcibly deporting Afghans from the country could lead to severe human rights violations which includes separation of families and deportation of minors.

This comes after Pakistan recently announced a major crackdown on illegal migrants in the country including 1.7 million Afghans asking them to return to Afghanistan by the end of this month to avoid mass arrest and expulsion.

The Pakistani government, however, has denied targeting Afghans and said that its focus is on those who live in the country illegally, irrespective of their nationality.

What did the UN say?

The UN agencies said that Afghanistan is undergoing a severe humanitarian crisis including challenges to rights, particularly for women and girls who the Taliban has banned to pursue education beyond sixth grade. They have also been denied most public spaces and several jobs.

“Such plans would have serious implications for all who have been forced to leave the country and may face serious protection risks upon return,” it said, referring to Pakistan's crackdown.

Acknowledging Pakistan’s “sovereign prerogative” over domestic policies, they said that they are ready to help in the registration and management of Afghan nationals, including those who may need international protection.

The International Organisation for Migration and UN Refugee Agency called on countries to “suspend forcible returns of Afghan nationals and ensure any possible returns to the country take place in a safe, dignified and voluntary manner.”

Pakistani government threatens landlords

The real estate owners and landlords in Islamabad have received notices directing them to evict “illegal Afghans” and their families by October 31 or face action.

The information minister in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, Jan Achakzai, said hundreds of Afghan families have voluntarily left the country and crossed the border since the announcement.

Authorities have detained more than 100 people, including Afghans and Iranians, he said.

Afghan refugees have found a safe haven in Pakistan since millions fled Afghanistan during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation, creating one of the world's largest refugee populations.

The number of Afghans crossing over to Pakistan has increased even further since the Taliban take over of Afghanistan in August 2021. The number is estimated to be around 1,00,000.

Spike in attacks in Pakistan

The move of the Pakistani government comes amid a spike in attacks by Pakistani Taliban (TTP) who have bases in Afghanistan but cross into Pakistan regularly to carry out attacks on security forces.

Pakistan has long demanded that the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan cease their support for the TTP, which is a separate group but allied with the Afghan Taliban. The Taliban deny providing sanctuary to the TTP.

(With AP inputs)

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