Plight of Afghan Refugees Escalates as They Flee Pakistan

by Ella

Afghanistan, Sunday – Afghan citizens escaping Pakistan in an attempt to evade arrest and deportation are confronting dire circumstances once they cross the border into their homeland, according to reports from aid organizations. These refugees find themselves without proper shelter, access to food, drinking water, and sanitation facilities, underscoring the challenging conditions they face.

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled Pakistan, as authorities launch an extensive crackdown on individuals they claim are residing in the country unlawfully. Pakistani authorities have implemented a deadline of October 31 for foreigners to leave the nation, warning of impending arrests for those who fail to comply.


Two primary border crossings, Torkham and Chaman, are being used by Afghans to return to their homeland. On the Afghan side of the border, the Taliban has established camps to accommodate these individuals as they await transportation to their respective regions within Afghanistan.


Aid organizations have described the conditions at the Torkham crossing as distressing, with inadequate shelter, limited access to potable water, reliance on open fires for heating, lack of lighting, and a dearth of toilet facilities. The situation has led to open defecation and poor hygiene, and it is a matter of growing concern. With thousands of people entering Afghanistan daily, U.N. agencies and aid groups are rushing to establish facilities to address these urgent needs.


One individual’s story, Kayal Mohammad, illustrates the hardships faced by many. He had resided in Peshawar, a city in northwestern Pakistan, for 17 years, but was deported to the Afghan border approximately a week ago. He explained to The Associated Press that he was not permitted to bring any of his household belongings with him, leaving everything he and his family own behind in Pakistan.


Hawa, his seven-year-old daughter, now shivers from the cold, sipping tea from a makeshift plastic bottle for breakfast and sleeping without a blanket. Her father has made a heartfelt plea for international assistance, acknowledging that seeking aid from the Taliban-led government is a challenging prospect, given their lack of formal recognition. Many Afghan families find themselves with nothing in their homeland, no land, no homes, merely living under the open sky, and without assistance.

Thamindri Da Silva, representing the relief and development organization World Vision International, disclosed that most individuals are relocated to a dry riverbed once they complete their initial registration and processing at a transit center. They arrive in Afghanistan with only the clothes on their backs, as watches, jewelry, and cash have been confiscated at the Pakistani border.

Arshad Malik, country director for Save the Children, emphasized the difficulty of resuming education for many returnees who lack the necessary documents and are not proficient in local Afghan languages like Dari and Pashto, having studied Urdu and English in Pakistan.

He warned that the return of impoverished families is likely to result in an increase in child labor and their involvement in smuggling activities. These families were among the most destitute migrants in Pakistan.

The Taliban has asserted that they have dedicated committees operating continuously to provide support to Afghans by distributing food, water, and blankets.

In Vatican City, Pope Francis voiced his concern about the plight of Afghan refugees, remarking that they had sought refuge in Pakistan but now face an uncertain future.

Afghanistan is grappling with an array of challenges, compounded by the isolation of the Taliban-led government by the international community. These challenges include years of drought, a fragile economy, and the enduring consequences of decades of conflict, resulting in the internal displacement of millions of Afghans.



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