Pajhwok Afghan News

Deported from Pakistan, refugees seek urgent assistance

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Refugees returning via Torkham crossing into eastern Nangarhar province say Pakistan forcibly deported them and currently they face a host of problems and need urgent support.

The newly arrived families say they have no money to pay house rent and they have sold all their household goods and if the government and the UN did not support them, winter can prove life-threatening.

Officials say since the crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan, about 20,000 families have returned to the country through Torkham crossing.

Earlier, the government of Pakistan had set Nov 1 a deadline for undocumented refugees to leave the country or face deportation.

Nangarhar Refugee Department officials say all the returning families are being given emergency assistance and are being registered with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, for further assistance.

As the number of returnees increased, Nangarhar provincial administration in coordination with the Refugees and Repatriation and other ministries built a temporary camp for them near Torkham town in Momand Dara District.

Refugees returning from Pakistan go to this temporary camp after being registered in Torkham and upon arrival there, they are given primary aid.

Haji Baz Muhammad Abdul Rahman, Director of Nangarhar Refugee Department, said a hospital and a camp have been built for the refugees who will be assisted and treated if necessary.

He said: “Each family will receive 10,900 afghanis as an emergency aid and they will also be given rent assistance.”

Nangarhar Information and Culture Department spokesman Sediqullah Qureshi told Pajhwok that about 20,000 families comprising 130,000 individuals had returned from Pakistan.

He added each undocumented refugee family was given nearly 11,000 afghanis and registered family was given 320 dollars per family members.

But the refugees say they are facing problems and need urgent aid.

Another returnee from Peshawar, Hazrat Ali, said he had been in the camp for some days waiting for his turn to get aid and leave for his locality.

“We were not given rights in Pakistan because it was not our  homeland, but now we are in our own country and we are not provided justice, we have no idea when our turn to receive aid will come,” Ali said.

The returnees also complain they were harassed and insulted by Pakistani police and treated against all laws.

Mohammad Jamil, who was living in Punjab province, said police forced his family out of their house and threw their household items on the road.

He said: “We had no money to pay truck fare, so we sold our belongings on half prices. We were treated worse than infidels.”

Abdullah, who was living in Jalozai camp in Peshawar, said he was out of home for work when he received a phone call from home and was told that police had dumped all their household belongings on the road.

He said: “Pakistan treated us badly, they gave us a short deadline, first policewomen came to our house and told us to leave as our time has ended, them policemen came and said the same. I was out of home working when I received a call from home that our household items are thrown out, so we had no other option than to return to our country.”

The returnees ask the government to provide them necessary facilities in the camps.

Shaista Khan, another returnee, said, they must be provided emergency aid and then employment opportunities.

He said: “There are no facilities in the camp, we sleep in our vehicles, we tent for families to live in the camp.”

Rural Rehabilitation and Development department officials, tasked with building the camp for returnees, said all primary facilities will be provided for the returnees in the camp.

They said the Ministry of Agriculture had allocated 325 acres of land for the camp where 500 houses will be built, but initially facilities will be provided for 100 families.

A high level delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister also traveled to the Torkham to hear returnees’ problems and find solutions.

Pakistan has announced the Nov 1 deadline for the deportation of more than one million undocumented Afghan refugees. Those who do not have legal residency documents of stay will be arrested and forcibly repatriated.

sa/aw/ma

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