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Pakistan being convinced to extend stay of refugees


Pakistan being convinced to extend stay of refugees

Jan 08, 2018 - 14:56

KABUL (Pajhwok): The government hopes to convince Pakistan through negotiations and diplomatic channels to revisit its decision on Afghan refugees’ stay in that country.

About a week back, the Pakistani government extended for only a month the stay of registered Afghan refugees, who lost their legal stay on December 31, 2017.

Hafiz Ahmad Miakhel, spokesman for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations (MoRR), told Pajhwok Afghan News on Monday a meeting was held to devise a specific plan for negotiating the issue with Pakistan.

At Sunday’s meeting, he said, the government’s preparations for addressing the emergency situation of returnees were also discussed by the participants.

Fateha Abdullah, head of UNHCR's site office in Afghanistan, Sarah Craggs, senior programme coordinator at IOM, the presidential envoy on refugee affairs, the UN Security Council representative and officials from the ministries of foreign affairs and finance attended the meeting.

Refugee Minister Sayed Hussain Alami Balkhi insisted on convincing Pakistan in political ways and mapping out an immediate plan for addressing the emergency situations.

The deputy minister also spoke on the occasion, saying the registration of refugees without documents was ongoing in Pakistan and so far 700,000 people had been documented and the number could reach nearly 900,000.

He said there had been no sign of torture of refugees in the neighbouring country. He hoped the proof of registration (POR) cards of Afghan refugees would be extended for six months.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative briefed the participants about Afghanistan’s diplomatic efforts. The Afghan embassy in Islamabad has shared the issue with Pakistani authorities.

Fateha, rhe UNHCR head, expressed high commissioner’s concern, saying that addressing and controlling this phenomenon was at the top of the priority list of refugee agency.

IOM’s Sarah also expressed the concern of the organisation’s head over the issue. The Geneva-based IOM headquarters was ready for any kind of support, she said.

During the meeting, the presidential envoy stressed political steps for convincing Pakistan to review its decision. He insisted on preparations for a possible emergency situation.