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Pakistan extends stay of registered Afghan refugees by one year

10 July, 2024 19:22

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has approved a one-year extension in the stay of registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, according to an official statement issued following the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

In its meeting, the federal cabinet approved a one-year extension of Proof Of Registration (POR) cards for 1.45 million Afghan refugees legally residing in the country and whose POR cards expired last month.

This decision comes after the caretaker government announced the repatriation of all illegal foreigners, including Afghan refugees, citing security concerns in October last year.

The move had sparked fear among the Afghan refugee community, many of whom have lived in Pakistan for decades.

While officials denied that the announcement targeted Afghan refugees specifically, repatriation of undocumented Afghans began on November 1, with up to 500,000 having returned to Afghanistan so far.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Pakistan is home to around 1.3 million registered Afghans, in addition to over 800,000 who hold Afghan citizenship cards. The PoR card is a critical identity document for registered Afghan refugees, many of whom have lived in Pakistan for 40 years.

The federal cabinet’s decision to extend the validity of PoR cards was made amid reports that Pakistan had suspended the repatriation of Afghans without legal documents.

However, the Foreign Office spokesperson denied the UNHCR chief’s claim regarding the repatriation plan’s suspension, stating that the plan remained in place and was being implemented in an orderly and phased manner.

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