All set for second phase of Afghan repatriation

A new phase of repatriation begins on the 15th

APP April 16, 2024


Mohmandan Ali, 65, an Afghan refugee who has lived in the Nowshera district for nearly four decades, is preparing to return to his home country voluntarily in the second phase of repatriation after Eid vacations.

Involved in the vegetable and fruit business to sustain his family in Pabbi Tehsil of Nowshera district, Mohmandan, along with approximately 3.5 million Afghan refugees, sought refuge in Pakistan following the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. They settled here, sharing facilities such as hospitals, schools, transportation, housing, and hotels with the local population.

“I left everything in my war-torn Afghanistan after the USSR invaded Kabul on December 25, 1979, and resettled in Nowshera district with my family,” Mohmandan recounted, expressing gratitude to his Pakistani hosts for their hospitality and support over the past 44 years.

Having obtained Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC) and residing in Pabbi, Mohmandan intends to return to Kabul after April. He cherishes the enduring hospitality and friendship extended by the people of Pakistan during his lengthy stay in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In the upcoming second phase of the repatriation drive, approximately one million Afghan ACC holders, like Mohmandan, are expected to be repatriated to Afghanistan, starting on April 15.

Rifaqat Khan, the spokesman of the K-P Home Department, affirmed that all arrangements have been finalized for the repatriation drive, which will include voluntary repatriation as well as deportation of refugees without legal documentation.

Transit points in Peshawar and Landi Kotal, Khyber, with accommodation capacities of 2,000 and 1,500 respectively, will be operational for gathering ACC holders before their transportation to Afghanistan via the Torkham border. Free transport, accommodation, and meals will be provided to those refugees willing to repatriate voluntarily.

The UNHCR data indicates that approximately 2.18 million documented Afghan refugees reside in Pakistan, including 1.3 million refugees with Proof of Registration (PoR) cards. This repatriation initiative aligns with international and Pakistani laws, emphasizing the necessity of legal documentation and compliance with immigration regulations.

“We are encouraging voluntary repatriation. However, those refugees who did not possess legal documents including visas and PoRs (proof of registration), and stayed illegally would be held and deported under the 14 Foreign Act.

He said the mapping process of ACC holders and resurvey for their whereabouts were almost completed by the deputy commissioners and police and a grand repatriation drive would start soon. He expressed the hope to complete the entire mapping and resurvey process in the coming days.

As per initial reports, he said most of ACC holders were living in the Peshawar and Khyber districts and a crackdown would be started against those who refused to obey the government orders.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2024.



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