Expressing concern about the situation of Afghan immigrants in Pakistan, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called on the Pakistani government to “suspend forcible returns of Afghan nationals before it is too late to avoid a human rights catastrophe”.
“We call on them to continue providing protection to those in need and ensure that any future returns are safe, dignified and voluntary, and fully consistent with international law,” OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement from Geneva on Friday.
“We believe many of those facing deportation will be at grave risk of human rights violations if returned to Afghanistan, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, cruel and other inhuman treatment, spokesperson said.
She said, “We are extremely alarmed by Pakistan’s announcement that it plans to deport ‘undocumented’ foreign nationals remaining in the country after Nov 1, a measure that will disproportionately impact more than 1.4 million undocumented Afghans who remain in Pakistan.”
There are more than two million undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan, with at least 600,000 of them leaving Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021.
The spokesperson said those at particular risk are civil society activists, journalists, human rights defenders, former government officials, and security force members, and of course, women and girls as a whole, who, as a result of the abhorrent policies currently in place in Afghanistan, are banned from secondary and tertiary education, working in many sectors and other aspects of daily and public life.
Earlier, human rights organizations were worried about the deportation of Afghan refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan, but the Pakistani authorities say that they are serious about implementing their decision.
Pakistan’s interior minister has once again warned that asylum seekers and illegal immigrants will be arrested and deported after the deadline.