The United Nations, along with its affiliated agencies, has appealed to countries currently deporting Afghan citizens back to Afghanistan to suspend these actions immediately. This call comes amid severe winter conditions and an escalating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Recent reports indicate that Iran and Pakistan have forced over half a million Afghans to leave their territories in the past two months alone, with daily deportation numbers on the rise.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) disclosed on Tuesday that nearly four hundred thousand Afghans have returned to Afghanistan through the Torkham and Spin Boldak border crossings from Pakistan. Afghan Taliban authorities have also noted the return of a similar number of nationals from Pakistan.
Maria Moita, Head of the IOM Mission in Afghanistan, described the situation as dire. Many returnees reported being forced to abandon their belongings and savings in Pakistan. Moita stressed the immediate need for long-term assistance for these individuals, both at the border and in their resettlement areas, underscoring an urgent requirement for funds to tackle this burgeoning humanitarian crisis.
Pakistan’s official data suggests most Afghans returned voluntarily, with about sixteen percent being forcibly deported. The Taliban government in Afghanistan has contested these deportations, seeking the return of these individuals. Islamabad, however, has refuted criticism, stating that the deportations target those living illegally in Pakistan or those overstaying their visas.
Pakistan maintains that its deportation policy targets only those living illegally in the country, associating their presence with a rise in militant attacks, a claim the Taliban authorities refute. The Pakistani government reassured that registered Afghan refugees are not subject to this policy and recently extended their legal residency until December 31st. Additionally, according to Pakistani officials, Afghans holding IOM-approved citizenship cards, issued by the previous Afghan government, are also not targeted by the deportations.
Afghan media, citing Taliban officials, reported that Iran has sent back over one hundred twenty thousand refugees in the last two months, with a majority reportedly being forced. Iran has not officially confirmed such actions, but its officials have recently advocated for the deportation of Afghan nationals residing illegally.