Mass Migration

Pakistan Extends Stay for Afghan Refugees, Halts Deportations Amid UNHCR Visit

Main image to the post Pakistan Extends Stay for Afghan Refugees, Halts Deportations Amid UNHCR Visit

Pakistan Extends Stay for Afghan Refugees, Halts Deportations

Pakistan has extended the stay of over 1.4 million Afghan refugees for another year, offering them a temporary reprieve from the uncertainty of their future. The decision, announced by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's office, comes after a cabinet meeting in Islamabad.

The extension grants validity to the Proof of Registration (PoR) cards held by Afghan refugees, allowing them access to essential services like healthcare, education, and banking. This vital document also protects them from forced deportation to Afghanistan, a country grappling with ongoing instability and humanitarian challenges.

The decision follows a visit by Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who urged Pakistan to extend the PoR cards and suspend the "Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan" (IFRP). The IFRP, implemented last October, led to the expulsion of over 600,000 undocumented Afghans, raising concerns among human rights groups and the Taliban government.

While a senior Pakistani official confirmed the suspension of deportations under the IFRP, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson denied any such agreement with the UNHCR. The spokesperson emphasized that the IFRP remains in place and is being implemented in a phased manner.

Despite the ongoing debate surrounding the IFRP, Pakistan's commitment to providing education for Afghan students remains steadfast. The country recently launched a new phase of scholarships for Afghan students, including girls, offering them the opportunity to pursue higher education in various fields. This initiative underscores Pakistan's continued support for the Afghan people and their pursuit of a brighter future.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09