Time to vacate: Afghan nationals asked to shift to refugee camps in Shabqadar

UNHCR plans to register all unregistered refugees in coming days

Mureeb Mohmand July 14, 2016
UNHCR plans to register all unregistered refugees in coming days. PHOTO: INP

SHABQADAR: The police have asked Afghan refugees in Shabqadar to vacate the residential areas and shift to refugees camps within 24 hours.

This was announced on loudspeakers in various areas. The police officials in Sro Kali and Khwajawas and other areas have confirmed the announcement.

According to the officials, the diktat applies to all Afghan refugees who live in the residential areas of Michni, Sro Kali, Khwajawas, Korona Daryab, Korona and other adjacent areas of Sro Kali police station and Khwjawas.

They said the order is for refugees who are illegally residing in these areas. According to the officials, Afghan refugees will be treated under the law and may be deported under the foreigners act if they fail to vacate the residential areas and shift to refugee camps.

Motive unknown

The police have not mentioned the motive behind the announcement. However, an insider in the police department has said the areas bordering Mohmand and Charsadda have witnessed acts of violence in the past few weeks. As a result, law and order has been affected.

“Thus law-enforcement agencies are shifting Afghan refugees to rid the area of militancy and violence,” he said.

According to the insider, there are 12,500 registered Afghan refugees while about 111 families are still unregistered in Munda camp.

However, if Pakistan and Afghan governments agree, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is planning to register all unregistered refugees in the coming days, the source added.

“We are negotiating with the government of Pakistan to register all unregistered refugees in Pakistan through UNHCR,” Afghan government spokesperson for Afghan refugees in K-P Hameed Khalili said. “These announcements have created uncertainty among Afghan nationals working in Shabqadar.”

According to a survey conducted in Shabqadar by MPhil scholar on Afghan refugee trade, more than 50% of local trade is conducted by Afghan refugees. Most of these refugees are from Afghan border areas such as Kama, Lal Pura, Jalalabad and Kunar, while those residing in Munda camps belong to Kabul city.

The Pakistan and Afghanistan governments and UNHCR are planning a strategy send Afghan refugees back home after the federal government extended their stay till December 2016.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2016.



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