News / Asia

In Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Reluctant to Return

In Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Reluctant to Returni
X
Ayaz Gul
June 21, 2014 10:45 PM
The governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, together with the help of the United Nations, have recently stepped up efforts to repatriate tens of thousands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. But political uncertainties about Afghanistan’s presidential elections have fueled long-term security and economic worries among the displaced, and many of them are now increasingly reluctant to return home. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
VIDEO: The governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, together with the help of the United Nations, have recently stepped up efforts to repatriate Afghan refugees in Pakistan. But political uncertainties about Afghanistan’s presidential elections have fueled long-term security and economic worries among the displaced. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
Ayaz Gul
In this informal refugee settlement on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital, more than 450 families from different parts of Afghanistan live under extremely difficult conditions. Having fled decades of conflict and persecution at home, they represent only a handful of the 1.6 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan facing economic hardships, health setbacks and a lack of education.

“The refugees have been here for a long time," said Maya Ameratunga of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan. "Many of them have been here for 30 years, many of them have been born in Pakistan.”

Ameratunga says UNHCR has been successfully running its voluntary repatriation program for Afghan refugees since 2002, but the remaining population is now increasingly reluctant to go back.    

With political uncertainties about Afghanistan’s presidential election only fueling long-term security and economic worries, many are resisting international efforts to repatriate them.

“So, far 3.8 million Afghans from Pakistan have already repatriated, including many people from here, so that same option is available to this refugee population. But I can understand that they want to wait until after the elections," she said. "They want to wait until after the international troops withdraw from Afghanistan and they want to see that there will be peace and stability in Afghanistan before they decide to go back.”

Shah Jamroze Khan, a longtime Afghan refugee, says although his country has seen a lot of positive changes and development since his family fled to Pakistan, he complains the Kabul government has paid almost no attention to the resettlement of Afghans. He is not very optimistic about the new political administration.

“Whatever [the new administration] do will only be known when they practically demonstrate it to benefit Afghans returning to their country," he said via translator. "If the refugees end up confronting the same hardships that they are facing in Pakistan, they would prefer not to go back to Afghanistan.”  

Speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad, Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Janan Mosazai reiterated Kabul’s appreciation for Pakistan’s long-running “hospitality and generosity” to millions of Afghans.

“But it is time for us to go back, to go back to Afghanistan and to take part in the reconstruction and development of the new Afghanistan that has emerged over the past 13 years,” he said.

Pakistan has recently agreed to allow Afghan refugees to stay in the country until the end of 2015, citing its own economic and security challenges. 

But aid workers see Afghanistan's political turmoil as a major setback in the campaign to persuade Pakistan's 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees to return.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tariq Nadeem from: Pakistan
June 23, 2014 12:42 AM
These UN agencies constantly make excuses for these refugees and want to keep them in Pakistan, why dont they take these people to their own countries? they will never be able to do that because their own countries wont take it, but they always demand Pakistan keep them longer, I think its because they get high wages from UN and want to continue their lifestyle at the cost of Pakistans security and economic loss.

No more Afghans in Pakistan, who is this person who keeps extending their stay? No country in the world is this foolish for this long, so much crime has been caused by these Afghans, with kidnapping, drugs, weapons, every imaginable crime is committed by these people and on top of everything they are loyal to India and not Pakistan, this really pinches me. For Gods sake wake up and close down Hotel Pakistan.

by: zee from: islamabad
June 22, 2014 2:37 AM
I don't know who makes up these figures. I am sorry to say I am sick of burden of afghan refugees. They were only registered once in 1980 as 3 million. They have borne dozens of children and many dozens of grand children here. How come still the same? Number. 99% of so called unhcr repatriated people come back same evening or within next 3 days on a different route and only do the same drill when UN offer some money again. I have seen afghans settled in every corner of country, be it a hottest place like sakkhar khipro let alone AK and Gilgit skardu and Dir-chitral-swat Axis of colder areas. The only way to find them is census now. People can still identify otherwise well settled in normal community worth ownership rights and lands and warehouses for business factories and shipment business and also some are richest persons of respective mega cities. So some agency need to wake up and do more to count them in real please.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More