After the Islamist Taliban came to power in August 2021, thousands of Afghans fled to neighboring Pakistan. Those who do not have residence status are now threatened with deportation.
Under pressure from a threatened mass deportation, thousands of Afghan refugees have left Pakistan for their homeland. “More than 10,000 Afghans crossed the border yesterday and we expect another 25,000 to follow today,” a representative of the Pakistani refugee authority told the German Press Agency.
According to a border official, 50 trucks full of people were waiting to cross the border in Torkham, where one of the main border crossings between the two countries is located. According to authorities, up to 5,000 people pass through the border crossing in Torkham on normal days, but in both directions.
The Pakistani government recently announced that it would deport refugees without residency status if they have not voluntarily left the country by the end of October. The measure is obviously aimed at people from neighboring Afghanistan, which is ruled by the Islamist Taliban and who make up the largest proportion of irregular migrants in Pakistan.
Setting up farewell centers
According to government figures, around 4.4 million Afghan refugees live in the country, 1.7 million of them without valid documents. According to authorities, more than 100,000 Afghans have already left the country since the announcement began.
“We have started arresting illegal migrants,” a police spokesman from Karachi in southern Pakistan told dpa. Deportation centers have been set up in various parts of the country where refugees without a residence permit are to be accommodated before deportation, as Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said at the expiry of the deadline.
Human Rights Watch has criticized the authorities’ handling of Afghan refugees without residency status. They are being pressured to return to Afghanistan through threats, abuse and arrests. The human rights organization pointed out that from this Wednesday onwards, Afghans who were waiting in Pakistan to travel on to the USA, Great Britain, Germany or Canada are also threatened with deportation. According to Pakistani authorities, Great Britain had flown Afghans who had agreed to accept them out of the country before the deadline expired.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.