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Halt Afghan deportations, UN tells Pakistan

28 Oct 2023 - 13:22
28 Oct 2023 - 13:22

PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) has asked Pakistan to suspend forcible returns of Afghans before it is too late to avoid what it called a human rights catastrophe.

The UNHCR spokesperson said on Friday: “We call on them to continue providing protection to those in need and ensure that any future returns are safe, dignified and voluntary, and fully consistent with international law.”

Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement on Friday: “We believe many of those facing deportation will be at grave risk of human rights violations if returned to Afghanistan, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, cruel and other inhuman treatment.”

She added: “We are extremely alarmed by Pakistan’s announcement that it plans to deport undocumented foreign nationals remaining in the country after Nov 1, a measure that will disproportionately impact more than 1.4 million undocumented Afghans who remain in Pakistan.”

At particular risk are civil society activists, journalists, human rights defenders, former government officials and security force members, women and girls, according to her.

UNHCR, and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have already documented a sharp spike in returns to Afghanistan since the deadline was announced on Oct 3.

A recent flash report by UNHCR and IOM placed the number of Afghans who left Pakistan in the month up to Oct 15 at 59,780 individuals.

As winter approaches, any mass deportations are bound to deepen the dire humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, as it grapples with the devastating impact of a series of earthquakes that struck Herat province this month, leaving at least 1,400 people dead and 1,800 injured, as per official figures, she said.

pr/mud

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