The return is hard for Afghans

An Afghan woman waiting at a checkpoint An Afghan woman waiting at a checkpoint IRIN

11 June 2018

A recent deadline on identity cards for Afghans in Pakistan is soon to expire and force Afghans to return home.

In Afghanistan, relocating returnees has proven to become a difficult challenge thus leading them unable to find a home or a job. According to Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, "Pakistan is the second-largest refugee hosting country.” 1.4 million refugees have left the instability of their homeland Afghanistan and have arrived in Pakistan. Pakistan has put into place a 30 June deadline until Afghan refugee’s identity cards allowing them to stay in the country expire. The Afghan government has only has resettled only a few thousand people over three years. Humanitarian agencies say their resources are overstretched and are worried the influx of refugees will lead to more instability. The largest issues the government faces, according the rights groups, is the long term needs for jobs, schools, and a place to live.

Pakistani authorities have drove out more than 600,000 Afghans through deportation threats and police abuses. Afghanistan is now struggling to absorb the rapid influx of returnees which has led to the UN launching a $152-million emergency appeal to cope with the influx.

The International Organization for Migration has reception centres at border crossings like Spin Boldak, where they offer medical services, food, money, and a night’s accommodation. After the Afghan refugees pass the border, they are left on their own. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations is responsible for reintegrating Afghans into society but so far only 7,000 returned families have been given land in the past three years.

According to Human Rights Watch, the lack of a large-scale government land programme is the biggest obstacle facing reintegration.

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