Friday , 21 June 2024

Taliban: Pakistan, Iran expelled over 400,000 Afghan refugees so far in 2024

VOA – The Taliban government in Afghanistan has said that the eviction of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and Iran continues unabated, with around 2,000 individuals arriving in the country daily.

“The two neighboring countries have forcibly deported over 400,000 refugees since the start of 2024, with Pakistan responsible for 75% of the deportations,” said Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s commission assisting and resettling returnees to their native Afghan districts.

“They are being well served here, and efforts are being made to provide them with additional amenities of life,” Ahmadi claimed.

Meanwhile, the United Nations warned Monday that recovery from years of conflict and “entrenched poverty” in Afghanistan is increasingly challenged by worsening humanitarian and economic conditions as well as a decline in foreign aid since the Taliban seized power almost three years ago.

Taliban officials have denounced deportations of Afghan migrants by Iran and Pakistan, calling for better coordination in repatriating the displaced families in line with international laws and taking into account the situation in Afghanistan.

Tehran and Islamabad maintain their deportation drives target only undocumented Afghan migrants, following laws enforced in countries around the world.

Pakistan formally launched its crackdown on foreigners residing illegally, including Afghans, last October, blaming them for a surge in nationwide terrorist acts. Nearly 600,000 Afghans have since gone back to their home country, with Pakistani officials claiming “more than 95%” returned voluntarily.

Islamabad has repeatedly clarified its crackdown is not targeted at the 1.4 million officially declared Afghan refugees being hosted by the country, nor is it aimed at nearly 800,000 migrants holding Afghan citizenship cards.

The U.N. estimates that more than 1.5 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran since January 2023, including voluntary returnees.

The U.N. humanitarian agency reiterated in a Monday statement that more than half of the population in Afghanistan — 23.7 million people, including 9.2 million children — need relief assistance.

The agency noted that the U.N. appealed for around $3 billion in funding to support Afghan humanitarian programs in 2024, but the appeal is only 20% funded six months into the year, hampering relief activities in the country, where 48% of people live below the poverty line.

Critics attribute the aid decline, among other factors, to the Taliban’s sweeping restrictions on Afghan women’s access to education and work.

De facto fundamentalist Afghan rulers have barred girls from seeking education beyond the sixth grade and prohibited many women from public and private workplaces.

The U.N. noted Monday that the imposition by the Taliban “of ever-more restrictive policies on women and girls’ rights and basic freedoms” have hindered their access to assistance and services and their involvement in public life.

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