Pakistan preparing to send back nearly 1 million Afghans in repatriation drive

Islamabad: Pakistan has started preparations to launch the second phase of its repatriation drive to send nearly one million Afghans back to their homeland, the media reported.

Instructions had been issued to district administrations and police to expedite the mapping of Afghan Citizen Card (ACC) holders, Dawn reported.

No date has yet been announced but the campaign to repatriate hundreds of thousands of ACC holders could begin in early to mid-summer.

According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, there are 2.18 million documented Afghan refugees in Pakistan. This includes the 1.3 million refugees holding Proof of Registration (PoR) cards as per the census carried in 2006-07, as well as an additional 880,000 refugees granted ACCs following a registration drive in 2017.

The return of Taliban to power in August 2021 saw another influx of worried Afghans into Pakistan.

Officials put their numbers anywhere between 6,00,000 and 8,00,000, some with valid travel documents, but an uncertain future.

Pakistan launched the first round of repatriation of what it called “undocumented aliens” in November last year, Dawn reported.

No official data has been released as to how many of the estimated 1.7 million undocumented Afghans have left for their country since November 2023, though the figure likely fell hugely short of what is now being considered a grossly exaggerated number, the report said.

According to sources, the total number of undocumented Afghans who have returned to Afghanistan via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan in the first round stands at around the half million-mark, Dawn reported.


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