News / Asia

    UN: Afghan Refugees Harassed in Pakistan

    Returning Afghan refugees, who have recently arrived from Pakistan, wait during the registration process at a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees center on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 20, 2013.
    Returning Afghan refugees, who have recently arrived from Pakistan, wait during the registration process at a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees center on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, June 20, 2013.
    Sharon Behn
    The U.N. refugee agency is warning that Afghan refugees in Pakistan are increasingly becoming victims of extortion, illegal detention and harassment. Pakistan has taken in millions of Afghans since the Soviet invasion in 1979 and has some 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees.

    According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, hundreds of registered Afghan refugees have recently been illegally swept up and briefly held by Pakistani authorities during security operations.
     
    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge
    U.N. representative Neill Wright said most of the arrests came during operations in Pakistan's restive southwestern province of Baluchistan and the southern city of Karachi, mainly because of institutional delays in updating refugee status cards.
     
    "Normally every month there would be just a small number of arrests and releases," Wright explained. "However in the last two or three months, particularly in the two operations that I mentioned, these numbers have gone up into the hundreds every week or every month, so the number has significantly increased."
     
    Wright added that the refugees were quickly released, but he called on law enforcement agencies to respect the rights of refugees and work on reducing the number of arrests.
     
    Islamabad, in its second extension since December 2012, recently said that registered Afghan refugees can legally remain in Pakistan until December 2015. However, many refugees are holding expired identity cards  - leading to mistaken detention and abuse.
     
    Wright's counterpart in the Pakistan Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, Imran Zeb, acknowledged that in some cases local security forces were taking advantage of the situation.

    "For example, if there is a man traveling on a bus, and if any security person or any police constable comes and asks for his identification, and he does not have one, or has, as I said an invalid card, so he is taken down from the bus and taken aside, so at the very lower level," noted Wright, "this is not something that regards to the government or to any institution or to any people, these are individual to individuals -- so that particular constable would try to try whatever means he can to benefit himself also and release the guy also. So that is the extortion."
     
    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge
    Millions of refugee Afghans poured over the border into Pakistan when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and more joined them when the Taliban took over in the late 1990s. In the last 10 years, some 3.8 million have been repatriated, but Pakistan still hosts more than one and a half million authorized Afghan refugees.
     
    "There are 1.61 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan today, and some of them were issued their PoR [Proof of Registration] cards in 2010 in different locations from where they are living today," said Wright, noting that issuing renewed cards is not a simple process. "So you can imagine the logistics and the cost of replacing all of those cards."
     
    The UNHCR and the government of Pakistan have set up complaint cells and a hotline for those authorized refugees who need help.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: sultan from: England uk
    November 02, 2013 8:24 PM
    @shaji. What a shame! Its funny how you don't mention that pakistanis do the same thing all over the world. If you want the Afghans to leave Pakistan then all the pakistanis all over the world should return back to Pakistan too since they aren't in danger in their homeland.Besides we are all muslims and we should welcome our brothers and sisters open armed and treat them fairly, no matter how long they are there for. In Islam there's NO NATIONALISM. Anyway when Pakistan has a war with someone who is it that always is on the front line winning the war? The pashtuns
    In Response

    by: khan
    November 09, 2013 12:28 AM
    Pakistanis residing across world are not bcoz they went there bcoz of war.they r immigrants. While afghans residing in pakistan r refugees .and came to pakistan bcoz of security concerns

    by: Abdulwahid from: Pakistan
    October 25, 2013 4:49 PM
    Thanks VOA. 65% of that 1.6 million are born in pakistan & they are just pakistani not afghani, pakistan should give them full nationality. I strongly disagree with above comment,in every forest there are different kinds of animals,five fingers of hand are not equal,Therefore in every country/nation/tribe/ any kind of people exist.
    In Response

    by: khan
    November 09, 2013 12:29 AM
    They dont have pakistani nationality.and should be sent back .thry r just refugee

    by: shaji from: Pak
    October 24, 2013 11:44 PM
    Good, they have a choice....GO HOME. We dont want Afghans in our country, they are rude, criminals, uneducated, murderers, thieves, kindppers, drug dealers, all the crime you can imagine, these people commit freely, they are filthy, and any neighbourhood they settle in becomes an instant ghetto, we were not supposed to host them for over 30 years, now they refuse to go back, sorry enough is enough, if anyone feels pity, please send visas for all 3 million overstaying illegally or else shut up.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.