Sharp rise in number of returning refugees: Balkhi
Sayed Hussain Alami Balkhi told a general session of the Meshrano Jirga or Senate that “unfortunately the situation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan has been affected by political issues and tense relations between the two countries. Pakistan’s negative behavior towards Afghan refugees is based on politics.”
Economic and trade related issues between Afghanistan and Pakistan also had a negative effect on Afghan refugees there, he said, insisting Afghan refugees had no role in anarchism and insecurity in Pakistan.
The stay of Pakistan-based Afghan refugees having legal documents has been extended to March 2017 and of the refugees lacking legal documents to October 2016, the minister said.
He said the number of Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan and Iran had unprecedentedly increased as around 8,000 refugees, most of them from Pakistan, returned on a daily basis.
“The repatriation process has highly accelerated to the extent not seen in the past 14 years. The reasons behind the increase in returning refugees could be identified as pressures from host countries and improvement in security situation of Afghanistan,” he said.
Based on Afghan government’s policy, each returning refugee is provided a land plot to resolve their residency problems, he said.
However, Balkhi said a shortage of budget, the lack of cooperation from relevant organizations and the usurpation of township land by powerful figures were main problems of his ministry.
“Work on 61 townships in 29 provinces of the country is underway, the townships would resolve residency problems for refugees once constructed,” he said.
He asked Meshrano Jirga members to increase the amount of budget for the ministry so it could meet all needs of affected people.
The MoRR with the current budget could not resolve problems of thousands of refugees returning daily to the country, he said.
About repatriation of Germany-based Afghan refugees, he said “negotiations with the German government are underway. The Afghan side did not reach any agreement on the deportation of Afghan migrants.”
He added 154,000 Afghans had applied for asylum in Germany last year.
On the other hand, he said the harassment of Afghan refugees in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province increased after a military school came under coordinated attack in Peshawar two years ago.
Clashes over border between Afghan and Pakistani forces that took place three months ago could also be a reason Pakistan trying to expel refugees, Balkhi said.
According to UNHCR, around 1.5 million registered and a million unregistered Afghan refugees live in Pakistan.
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