QUETTA: Representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Pakistan, Maya Ameratunga, has said that the majority of Afghan refugees do not want to voluntarily repatriate because of the deteriorating law and order situation in their country.
Around 1.5 million refugees are leading a very hard life in Pakistan, yet they still believe the law and order situation here is relatively better than Afghanistan, said the head of UNHCR during a seminar.
The officials of UNHCR Dunya Aslam Khan and Javeria Tareen gave a detailed presentation on the repatriation process and mechanism. According to UNHCR, there are 327,788 registered Afghan refugees in Balochistan. In contrast, the Balochistan government officials say there are around one million illegal Afghan immigrants in the province.
“Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran officials gathered in Geneva recently to devise a strategy to repatriate the refugees. Pakistan is the country that has hosted refugees for the longest period,” Maya told the participants.
The head of UNHCR showed dislike for the attitude and behaviour towards Afghan refugees in the aftermath of the Peshawar Army Public School massacre, Maya told The Express Tribune.
Fabio Varoli, Head of UNHCR Sub Office Quetta, said the refugees are not involved in any terrorism or subversive activity. “UNHCR cooperates with the local administration when it comes to security,” he said. “The registered refugees are confined in camps which are peaceful and are being monitored.”
“UNHCR came and started collecting data in 2005. At least 626,000 Afghan refugees have been repatriated between 2002 and 2014 from Balochistan,” Dunya Aslam Khan said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2015.