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Pakistan for swift return of Afghan refugees

Pakistan for swift return of Afghan refugees

May 17, 2019 - 08:46

PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Pakistaninfo-icon has urged the global fraternity to help accelerate the process of voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland.

Speaking to a UNHCR delegation in Islamabad on Thursday, Minister of State and Frontier Region Shehryar Afridi said Pakistan was pursuing a policy on the voluntary repatriation and management of Afghan nationals.

“Pakistan considers voluntary repatriation as the most preferred viable solution for Afghan refugees and is adhering to the principles of voluntarism and gradualism,” he said.

Over the past four decades, he added, Pakistan had hosted Afghan refugees well and this hospitality had been unprecedented in human history.

However, Afridi voiced concerns at the slow pace of repatriation, saying only 1,528 registered refugees had voluntarily returned home in 2018.

He noted the sluggish trend also remained in evidence during the current year, when only 877 individuals returned to Afghanistaninfo-icon from March 1 to May10.

The UN delegation was informed the validity of Proof of Registration (PoR) cards for Afghan refugees and the tripartite agreement would expire on June 30.

In consultation with stakeholders, the Ministry of SAFRON will submit a summary to the federal cabinet for extending the stay of refugees.

However, the minister underlined the need for concrete and robust action to speed up the repatriation during the current year.

Afridi said most of Afghan refugees were the second or third generation born in Pakistan, needing urgent investment to empower them through educationinfo-icon, skills training and livelihoods support inside Afghanistan.

Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR country representative, promised Pakistan full support from the UN agency in accelerating the repatriation process for Afghan refugees.

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