On World Refugee Day, Afghans in Pakistan fear deportation

1 / 3
Children outside their homes in Ghundo refugee camp on the outskirts of Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province. (AN photo)
2 / 3
Mud-built shops in an Afghan refugee camp in the Malakand district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province. (AN photo)
3 / 3
Refugee Rasool Khan, 40, was born in Pakistan and is a representative of Afghan traders in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce.
Updated 20 June 2018
0

On World Refugee Day, Afghans in Pakistan fear deportation

  • Islamabad has set June 30 as the deadline for Afghan refugees to return to their country
  • Nearly 4.2 million Afghans have been repatriated to their native country since 2002, according to the UN refugee agency

PESHAWAR: Rasool Khan, 40, and his four siblings were born in Pakistan, his family having moved there immediately after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1978.
Both his grandfather and father were merchants and frequently visited Pakistan. “My father used to visit Pakistan for business, but in the 1970s he permanently moved there because of the war in Afghanistan,” Khan said.
But Pakistan has set June 30 as the deadline for Afghan refugees to leave the country. Khan, a representative of Afghan traders in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, said there should be a separate policy for students, businesspeople and Afghans married to Pakistani women.
“It’s not fair to deal with all Afghans under the same policy of deportation and repatriation,” he added.
With World Refugee Day being observed on June 20, Afghans living in Pakistan hope that the deadline will be extended.
Abdul Hameed, director of the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, said Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) province hosts 1.1 million Afghan refugees.
Based in KP’s capital Peshawar, he expressed hope that Pakistan’s caretaker government will extend the stay of Afghan refugees.
“Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are improving, and both sides are in touch on the refugee issue,” he told Arab News.
The director general of the Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees in KP, Waqar Maroof, said Islamabad is considering adopting a separate policy for Afghan students, traders and those married to Pakistani women.
“Once KP’s Interior Ministry gives the go-ahead, we’ll implement the plan,” he told Arab News.
Qaiser Khan Afridi, spokesman in Pakistan for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said 4.2 million Afghans have been repatriated to their native country since 2002.
“Pakistan is the second-largest refugee host country (in the world), and it is hosting around 1.4 million Afghan registered refugees at the moment,” he added.
Islamabad says there are more than 1 million Afghans living in Pakistan without proper documentation.
“We want Afghan refugees to stay in Pakistan with legal and valid documents,” said Maroof. “Afghans who were repatriated to their native country want to come to Pakistan on a valid visa and passport so they can stay here legally.”
Khan fears losing the business he and his father built over the last four decades if he is forced to go to Afghanistan.
His friend Masham Khan moved there a few months ago, but returned to Pakistan after getting a visa because “there isn’t enough business activity” in Afghanistan.


Family of Daesh teen appeals to UK to help bring her child home

Updated 22 February 2019
0

Family of Daesh teen appeals to UK to help bring her child home

  • Shamima Begum’s family wrote Friday to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, asking for his help in bringing her child to Britain
  • They described the baby boy as a “true innocent”

LONDON: The family of a UK teenager who ran away to join Daesh as a minor is begging the British government to help bring her newborn son to Britain.
Shamima Begum’s family wrote Friday to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, asking for his help in bringing her child to Britain, describing the baby boy was a “true innocent.”
Begum was only 15 when she fled east London with two other friends to travel to Syria to marry Daesh fighters in 2015 at a time when the group’s online recruitment program lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate.
Begum, now 19, resurfaced at a refugee camp in Syria and has told reporters she wanted to come home. Her apparent lack of remorse has triggered criticism, and Javid has revoked her citizenship.