HRW says Pakistan deported 600,000 Afghans forcibly
KABUL: Pakistan is conducting mass repatriation of Afghan refugees through coercion, threats and abuse, Human Rights Watch said in a scathing report Monday, accusing the UN refugee agency of complicity in promoting the exodus.
The report said nearly 600,000 Afghans have been deported since July 2016. The returnees include 365,000 registered refugees.
The 76-page report, entitled “Pakistan Coercion, UN Complicity: The Mass Forced Return of Afghan Refugees”, called the mass repatriation the world´s largest forced return of refugees.
“After decades of hosting Afghan refugees, Pakistan in mid-2016 unleashed the world´s largest recent anti-refugee crackdowns to coerce their mass return,” said Gerry Simpson, a refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“Because the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) didn´t stand up publicly to Pakistan´s bullying and abuses, international donors should step in to press the government and UN to protect the remaining Afghan refugees in Pakistan.”
The report quoted a 26-year-old Afghan who was forced to return to Kabul with his wife and two children after Pakistani security forces stormed into their house.
“In July, 11 soldiers and police came to our home at 3am. They entered without asking and threw all our things on the floor. They demanded to see our refugee cards and said they were expired,” the man was quoted as saying.
“Then they stole all our money and told us to leave Pakistan.”
The report was also critical of the UNHCR, saying that by doubling its cash grants to Afghans returning from Pakistan to $400, it was effectively promoting the exodus.
“The UN refugee agency should end the fiction that the mass forced return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan is, in fact, mass voluntary return,” Simpson said.
“If UNHCR feels that giving cash to returning refugees is the best way to help them survive in Afghanistan, it should at the very least make clear it does not consider their return to be voluntary.”
There was no immediate reaction to the report from UNHCR or the Pakistani government._ AFP