Refugee repatriation: Pakistan, Afghanistan for voluntary package

Agree to work together to generate funds for reintegration of evacuees

Tahir Khan March 11, 2015
Agree to work together to generate funds for reintegration of evacuees. PHOTO: REUTERS


Pakistan and Afghanistan on Tuesday endorsed an Enhanced Voluntary Return and Reintegration Package (EVRRP) for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

Both countries also decided to work together with traditional and new donors for generating funds for the EVRRP, which would help efforts for sustainable reintegration of the evacuees.

Officials said they have agreed on documenting all unregistered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, which, according to the UN Refugee Agency, hosts nearly a million unregistered Afghans.

The registered Afghans, around 1.61 million in number, have Proof of Registration cards to stay in the country until the end of this year.

Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Syed Hussain Alemi Balkhi led his nine-member delegation to the bilateral talks in Islamabad to discuss the issue of refugees amid complaints of their arrest and expulsion. Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch led the Pakistani delegation.

“Both sides agreed on documenting unregistered Afghan nationals in Pakistan, with technical support from NADRA and verification by Afghan authorities,” said a joint statement. A committee comprising three members each from Afghanistan and Pakistan was constituted to work out the modalities for documenting unregistered Afghans and for subsequent issuance of necessary documents by the Afghan government.

The two delegations also decided that a common strategy and plan of repatriation would be worked out between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UNHCR with clear timelines, keeping in view the ground realities and the absorption capacity of Afghanistan.

Balkhi told the meeting that any repatriation plan should be based on ground realities, especially in the aftermath of the three-decade war in his country. He said the national unity government of Afghanistan had chalked out a strategy for repatriation and reintegration of Afghans.

However, he highlighted the challenges to be faced and requirements to be considered in the process, including extension of the existing deadline of December 31, 2015.

Baloch said that since the deadline was fast approaching, both the countries should immediately start working on an action plan ensuring voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees.

‘Don’t bother refugees’

Following concerns expressed by Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan Janan Mosazai over the behaviour of the K-P police officials with Afghan refugees, the federal government has stopped the police from arresting refugees as well as carrying out raids on their houses. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT IN PESHAWAR)

Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2015.


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