KABUL: Pakistan is conducting mass repatriation of Afghan refugees through force, claims Human Rights Watch in a scathing report on Monday, accusing the UN refugee agency of complicity in promoting the exodus.
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been returned to their homeland, which is racked by conflict, poverty and unemployment, joining more than half a million others uprooted by war inside the country.
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The 76-page report, entitled "Pakistan Coercion, UN Complicity: The Mass Forced Return of Afghan Refugees", called the mass repatriation the world's largest forced return of refugees.
"After decades of hosting Afghan refugees, Pakistan in mid-2016 unleashed the world's largest recent anti-refugee crackdowns to coerce their mass return," said Gerry Simpson, a refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The report was also critical of the UNHCR, saying that by doubling its cash grants to Afghans returning from Pakistan to $400, it was effectively promoting the exodus.
Returning home: More than 350,000 Afghan refugees return, says UN
"The UN refugee agency should end the fiction that the mass forced return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan is, in fact, mass voluntary return," Simpson said.
"If UNHCR feels that giving cash to returning refugees is the best way to help them survive in Afghanistan, it should at the very least make clear it does not consider their return to be voluntary."
There was no immediate reaction to the report from UNHCR or the Pakistani government.
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