Return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan deepens crisis in Afghanistan

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Around 374,000 Afghans have returned to their homeland from Pakistan following the commencement of the Pakistani authorities' campaign to expel foreigners without visas and documents. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern about the negative impact of the influx of such a large number of people on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, TASS reports.

"The UNHCR is concerned about Pakistan's announcement that foreigners without documents should leave the country, as these directives have had a negative impact on Afghan citizens, including registered refugees and others with valid documents," said Philippa Candler, the UNHCR representative in Pakistan, during a briefing in Geneva.

"Since Pakistan announced this plan on October 3, 2023, about 374,000 people have returned to Afghanistan, mostly out of fear and haste," she added. "We are witnessing an exponential increase in the number of arrests, detentions, and deportations of Afghans in Pakistan."

The mass return of Afghans to their homeland "exacerbates the ongoing humanitarian crisis as winter temperatures begin to drop – in some places, the minimum has already reached minus 4 degrees Celsius," noted Candler.

She reminded that "many Afghan returnees are vulnerable," including "women and children who may perish in the harsh winter if they are left without proper shelter."

November 24, 2023