Afghan refugees living in oppression, inhumane conditions: Report

Published: January 29, 2012

International community urged to ‘do more’ for peace in the region. PHOTO:AFP /FILE

International community urged to ‘do more’ for peace in the region. PHOTO:AFP /FILE Afghan children playing at a refugee camp in the outskirts of Islamabad. PHOTO: FILE
ISLAMABAD: 

Current practices regarding Afghan refugees are oppressive and the volume of published research on Afghan refugees has considerably decreased over the past decade.

This was revealed by ‘The Legal Environment in Pakistan for Registered Afghans’, a report launched by Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme on Friday.

The report was conducted with the financial assistance of the German foreign office and technical assistance of Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany.

The report highlights the legal status of registered Afghan refugees, which has changed over time in Pakistan and examines how Afghans have approached the Pakistani legal system in the absence of any refugee law. In addition to that, it also discusses the impact of local laws on their lives as ‘non-citizens’.

Speaking on the occasion, Muhammad Behzad Khan, the principal researcher, said international non-governmental organisations which provide legal assistance and protection to registered Afghans should encourage the Pakistani government to consider their situation in its state reports under all international human rights treaties.

In his recommendations, Khan has requested the government to recognise the registration cards of refugees as valid identity documents for transactions which require proof of identity.

“The government should also strengthen institutional mechanisms to disseminate information on policy changes with respect to refugees,” Khan added.

In addition to that, a national legal and administrative framework for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees should be supported and implemented, he said.

Stephen Roken, the German embassy’s deputy head of mission said the embassy wishes to support research initiatives to bring peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Planning Commission member and a noted human right activist Dr Saba Gul Khattak lamented that even women refugees do not enjoy all the rights and privileges available to Pakistani citizens.

However, she appreciated Pakistan for hosting Afghans with an open heart and for initiating a voluntary repatriation programme

States and Frontier Regions Secretary Habibullah Khan Khattak said the refugees’ issue is of paramount importance as it is also a national security issue. He called on the international community to work towards restoring peace in the region.

Afghan Refugees Commissioner for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Zaheerul Islam also criticised the international community for ‘not doing enough’. He urged them to support local and government initiatives to improve the living conditions of refugees.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2012.

Reader Comments (6)

  • Maria
    Jan 29, 2012 - 11:16AM

    Why can’t all the Afghani refugees go back to Afghanistan or to the Western countries where many of them live on state welfare after getting asylum. Pakistan should not be burdened by these people any more. After the West leaves, they will all start coming back again so we need to make a fence or wall to keep them out.

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  • Bhai chara
    Jan 29, 2012 - 12:22PM

    If they have settled in Pakistan with their children being born in Pakistan – then they are Pakistanis and should be accepted as Pakistani citizens with all the rights and priviliges as a Pakistani citizen. They should be rehabilitated and provided educational benefits and brought into the fold. They too have suffered and have taken refuge with their Pakistani brothers. Pakistan has become their adopted country rightly so!

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  • Muhammad
    Jan 29, 2012 - 1:06PM

    Their repatriation is also necessary as the USA-NATO-Afghanistan claim that situation in Afghanistan has been restored. Well, now refugees must be repatriated forecfully and international powers must take it seriously..

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  • Nkele
    Jan 29, 2012 - 2:21PM

    The Afghans are unhappy in this country yet they refuse to leave even when Pakistani authorities try to throw them out. If the Germans are so concerned about their welfare they can always take them into their own country, but they won’t; they’ll just condescendingly chide Pakistan.

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  • sam
    Jan 29, 2012 - 6:57PM

    Afghans are our neighbours and we have historical relationship with them.i think those kids who are born in Pakistan and never been to Afghanistan should be given Pakistan citizenship.They are good people.We have hosted Afghans for decades and i think now its time integrate them legally.they live among us in same subarbs and same streets.what stops us doing this.

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  • Pakistani Agnostic
    Jan 30, 2012 - 12:31AM

    Keep the intelligent ones ( I personally know a lot of Afghans who have gained Pakistani nationality and are now respected doctors and engineers) and send back the useless ones!

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