Pakistan to Deport 1.4 Million Afghans in UN Race Against Time

The United Nations has called on Pakistan to delay deporting over 1.4 million Afghans by November 1.

In a press statement, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that it was “extremely alarmed” at Pakistan’s announcement of deportation. There are currently more than two million Afghans who live in Pakistan without documentation.

More than 600,000 of the two million are immigrants who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban regained power in August 2021.

Deportation is a possibility for civil society activists, journalists, and human rights defenders. Former government officials, security forces members, and former government officials are also at risk. Women and girls are also at risk, as they are prohibited from getting a secondary or tertiary degree, working in escorts, and many other aspects of everyday life due to policies implemented by Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

The OHCHR warned that if Pakistan deports the refugees, they may be subject to human rights violations, such as torture, cruel treatment, and arbitrary detention.

Pakistan announced that it would deport Afghans without documentation on October 3, and according to the U.N. Refugee Commissioner (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration, there has been an “increased” number of Afghan deportations.

UNHCR/IOM report claims that between October 3-14, 59,780 Afghans fled Pakistan. 78% of those returning to Afghanistan said that they were afraid of being arrested because they had left Pakistan.

UN officials stated that “as the deadline of 1 November approaches, we urge Pakistani authorities to suspend the forcible return of Afghan nationals to prevent a human rights catastrophe”, before it’s too late. “We urge them to continue to provide protection to those who are in need, and to ensure that any future return is safe, dignified, voluntary, and fully compliant with international law.”

UN said mass deportations, or any deportations that do not take into account the individual circumstances of each person, will constitute a violation of human rights laws, including the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

The report also warned that the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan could worsen with the coming winter, as the country struggles to deal with the effects of the earthquakes which struck the Herat Province this month.

In the aftermath of the earthquakes, 1,400 people lost their lives, 18,000 people were injured and, out of 43 million people, 30 million people need assistance, while 3.3 million are internally displaced.

The statement stated: “We remind de facto authorities that they have international obligations in respect of human rights, which continue to blind Afghanistan’s statehood. They also need to fulfill their obligations to promote, protect, and uphold human rights.”