Pakistan has removed half a million Afghans from its territory in just four months, with most of them self-deporting after the government in Islamabad threatened to arrest people without legal status en masse.
An estimated 1.7 million Afghans were living in Pakistan illegally before the authorities announced a November 1, 2023, deadline for illegals to leave or face arrest. Most of the Afghans who returned to their homeland did so before this deadline, but a steady stream of illegals who missed it are continuing to cross back.
“Since the initial peak around November 1, the number of individuals crossing these official border points have consistently decreased but remains higher than pre-September 15th,” said the United Nations Migration Agency, also known as the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Other Afghans were flown to Western countries such as the United Kingdom. The British government was paying the hotel bills of thousands of Afghans in Pakistan but began chartering flights to bring them to Britain in response to the Pakistani deportation order.
The UN has complained returning Afghans to their home country puts them “at risk of persecution” by the Taliban, but Islamabad says the deportations are necessary for national security.
Afghanistan is often used as a staging ground for terror attacks on Pakistan, and Afghans often lack proper identification.
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