History of Afghan refugees and UN warning to Pakistan

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By vexwift.com

History of Afghan refugees and UN warning to Pakistan

In Pakistan, there are approximately 3.7 million Afghan migrants who arrived due to the ongoing conflict and insecurity in Afghanistan. Many of these Afghan migrants do not possess legal documents allowing them to stay in Pakistan. This wave of migration began in 1979 following the Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan, which continued until the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in 2021.

We can categorize this migration wave into three main phases:

1) Afghan Migrants of 1979: These were the people who sought refuge in Pakistan to escape the conflict and turmoil in Afghanistan caused by the Soviet Union’s intervention. According to Amnesty International, by the end of 1980, the number of Afghan migrants in Pakistan had reached up to 4 million. This number fluctuated over time, with some returning to Afghanistan while others continued to arrive from conflict-affected regions of Afghanistan. By 2000, Pakistan hosted around 2 million Afghan refugees.

2) Post-2001 US Invasion Migrants: After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States launched an invasion of Afghanistan. The Kabul government, facing limited military resources, retreated and guerrilla warfare and civil unrest took over. This led to a new wave of Afghan migrants to Pakistan. By the end of 2002, Pakistan had received 1.5 million more Afghan refugees, and in the following years, another 5 million were accepted. As conditions stabilized in Afghanistan, a significant number of these migrants returned to their home country.

3) After the Taliban’s Takeover of Kabul in 2021: In 2021, following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the subsequent Taliban takeover of Kabul, Pakistan saw an influx of around 600,000 Afghan migrants, according to Refugee International’s report.

Pakistan hosted these migrants for many years and made several attempts to repatriate them. Some of these efforts were partially successful. However, a significant challenge emerged as Afghan migrants established homes, engaged in businesses, built relationships with local communities, and a new generation was born in Pakistan that didn’t wish to return to their home country.

Afghan citizens residing in Pakistan had to obtain various legal documents to stay in the country. Pakistan has now announced that Afghan migrants without proper registration documents have until November 1, 2023, to leave the country voluntarily, or they will be forcibly deported.

At present, there are approximately 1.7 million undocumented migrants. Identifying and repatriating such a large number of migrants is a significant challenge for Pakistan. More importantly, this displacement has created significant issues for the young Afghan population who had grown up in a specific environment and now find themselves in a foreign land.

The United Nations has warned Pakistan that forcibly deporting Afghan migrants could lead to a significant humanitarian crisis.

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