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    Afghans face problems in getting new registration cards

    QUETTA(PAN): Afghans living in Pakistan's Balochistan province complain they are facing problems in getting new registration cards.

    The Pakistani government along with United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, launched a project on September 20 to issue new registration cards to 1.7 million Afghans who are residing in the country.

    The process would continue until February next year.

    But in Balochistan, refugees say due to lack of female staffers at the centres, they were reluctant to send their women there.

    Nasrullah, an Afghan refugee at Zher Kariz area, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Monday that all workers at the renewal centres were men.

    He said when females visited the centres, officials there took long time to finish their work.

    In Afghan orthodox customs, men dislike females to expose their faces to non-relatives.

    Another refugee, Nazrullah said they had discussed the problem with UNHCR and officials at the Afghan consulate time and again, but to no avail.

    He blamed UNHCR of deliberately choosing not to appoint female staff at the centres. "If UNHCR really wants to solve this problem, they can do it within two hours by finding female staff."

    Hazratullah, another refugee, said the centres had been set up in urban areas and that most of Afghan refugees lived in refugee camps in outlying areas of Balochistan.

    UNHCR spokesman in Islamabad, Dunya Aslam Khan, acknowledged that they had received some complaints from refugees regarding the process. However, he said the problems would be sorted out soon.

    With receiving new registration cards, Afghans living in Pakistan would be able to live in that country for another three years.

    With financial support from UNHCR, the government had established 11 centres throughout the country to process applications and register members of registered Afghan families.

    The refugees had been asked to bring their existing cards to the renewal centres.

    With more than 3.6 million Afghan refugees who have returned home since 2002, the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) in collaboration with UNHCR launched a nationwide project to issue new registration cards to 1.7 million registered Afghan citizens.

    These cards are a part of the government’s strategy for the extension of the temporary stay for three years, alongside voluntary repatriation, of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

    The government has also taken the initiative to establish 17 centres to distribute birth certificates to Afghan children recognised by the government of Afghanistan.

    ss/ma