By Pajhwok On Jan 16, 2015
KABUL (Pajhwok): Most of Afghan refugees in Pakistan do not want to voluntarily return due to the deteriorating law and order situation in their country, a UN official was quoted as saying on Friday.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Pakistan Maya Ameratunga said officials from Islamabad, Kabul and Tehran recently discussed a repatriation plan.
“Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iranian officials gathered in Geneva to devise a strategy to repatriate the refugees. Pakistan is the country that has hosted refugees for the longest period,” Maya told a seminar in Quetta.
Living under hard conditions in Pakistan, about 1.5 million refugees believe the security situation there was better than in Afghanistan, the Express Tribune quoted the UNHCR official as saying.
UNHCR Sub-Office head in Quetta Fabio Varoli said the refugees were not involved in terrorist or subversive activity. “UNHCR cooperates with the local administration when it comes to security.” he said.
At least 626,000 Afghan refugees have been repatriated between 2002 and 2014 from Balochistan, according to Dunya Aslam Khan, another UNHCR official, who gave a presentation on the repatriation process and mechanism.
The UN agency says there are 327,788 registered refugees in Balochistan. But the provincial administration claims there are around one million illegal Afghan immigrants in the province.
UNHCR not to support Afghan refugees involved in terror acts
Published Jan 17, 2015 07:01am
MAYA Ameratunga, representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.—White Star/File
QUETTA: The UNHCR country representative, Maya Ameratunga, has said that her organisation would not support Afghan refugees found involved in terror activities in Pakistan.
Talking to journalists here on Thursday, Ms Ameratunga said the UN refugee agency was aware of security challenges in Pakistan and supported measures being taking by the government to improve law and order.
Ms Ameratunga was accompanied by the UNHCR’s Balochistan head, Fabio.
Also read: How many refugees does it take to care?
She said some Afghan refugees, both registered and illegal, had been taken into custody by Pakistan’s law-enforcement agencies for their alleged involvement in terror activities. The UNHCR, she added, would provide legal assistance only to registered Afghan refugees.
She said the UN refugee agency has been providing assistance to Afghan refugees for their voluntary repatriation to their home country.
She called upon the Pakistan government not to use force for the repatriation of Afghans. The forced evacuation of refugees would affect a large number of Afghan families as security situation in Afghanistan was still not conducive, she added.
She said efforts to improve security situation in Afghanistan were continued so that repatriation process of Afghan refugees from neighbouring countries could be carried out in a smooth way.
She said the UNHCR kept a continuous vigil at the activities of Afghan refugees and would inform Pakistani authorities if anyone of them is found involved in suspicious activities.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2015