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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs