PESHAWAR: The UN Refugee Agency’s voluntary repatriation centres (VRC) in Chamkani will remain closed between July 17 and July 21 for Eidul Fitr, stated a press release issued on Wednesday.
According to the document, the centre will resume operations from July 22.
“The repatriation centre in Baleli, Quetta will also be closed during Eid from July 16 till July 20 and resume work on July 21,” read the statement.
“Encashment centres in Afghanistan will remain closed from July 17 to July 20 and will open on July 21.”
VRCs facilitate Afghan nationals who either hold proof of registration cards or refugee status to return to Afghanistan under the UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation programme, which was initiated in 2002.
“Afghan nationals who wish to return to their country once operations are resumed are requested to contact the UNHCR’s helpline between 8am and 8pm before visiting these centres,” stated the press release.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, UNHCR Spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan said 42,000 Afghan nationals have been voluntarily repatriated in 2015 under the programme.
“Of these, at least 22,000 are from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” Khan added.
The federal government’s deadline for the repatriation of Afghan nationals is December 31. Ever since the Army Public School massacre in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, many unregistered Afghan nationals have been sent back. The K-P government directed Afghan nationals who lacked proof of registration and other documents to validate their stay in the country. If they failed to do so, they would either be sent back to Afghanistan or face the music.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.