Islamabad: Pakistan’s federal government has decided to extend the stay of registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan till June 2020. This year marks 40 years of Afghan displacement and Pakistan’s exceptional humanitarian assistance.
The decision was announced during Afghan President Ashraf Gani’s ongoing visit to Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan is said to have informed the Afghan president about the extension in current deadline that was to end on June 30, 2019.
“The Government of Pakistan is pleased to extend the validity in respect of Tripartite Agreement, Proof of Registration (POR) Cards till 30-06-2020,” reads the notification by Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON). The ministry also announced an extension in the validity of Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC) till October 31, 2019.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) defines registered Afghans as those who have valid Proof of Registration (POR) cards issued by the Pakistani government that allows them temporary legal stay.
One of the world’s largest refugee-hosting nations, Pakistan is home to an estimated 2.4 million registered and undocumented people from Afghanistan. There were an estimated 1,405,715 registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan as of June 2019, as per the statistics by UN refugee agency.
From 2002 to 2018, some of 4,374,208 Afghan refugees voluntarily repatriated from Pakistan with UNHCR’s assistance. Since the beginning of 2019, around 10,720 Afghans have returned home from Pakistan, according to the data collected by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
For Pakistan, the year 2019 marks the 40th year since the beginning of large-scale displacement of Afghan refugees. Pakistan is hosting millions of refugees at a time when developed nations are refusing to even accept a single boat of migrants, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Shehryar Afridi reminded. He urged the developed world to share the burden and responsibility of the refugees. Around 68 per cent of Afghan refugees were already integrated with the mainstream Pakistani population, while 32 per cent still live in camps, according to the minister.
Earlier in June, Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR agreed to ensure “safe and honourable” repatriation of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan for the past four decades under the Tripartite Agreement.
Key facts on Afghan refugees in Pakistan
According to the UNHCR Pakistan and IOM Afghanistan:
Registered Afghan Refugees: 1,405,715
Registered refugees returned (Jan-Jun 2019): 2,036
Undocumented refugees returned (Jan-Jun 2019): 10,789