Afghan Refugees Fear Return as Pakistan Cracks Down on Migrants — Global Issues read full article at

Moniza Kakar will get thumb impressions of Afghan girls on the authorized doc referred to as Wakalatnama, which is a doc filed by a celebration with a view to appoint a lawyer to plead on their behalf. Credit score: Moniza Kakar
  • by Zofeen Ebrahim (karachi)
  • Inter Press Service

Having taken refuge in Pakistan for nearly a yr with out a visa, she mentioned she was feeling extraordinarily unsafe. “We are trying to remain as invisible as possible,” she mentioned.

However, mentioned 45-year-old Naghma Ziauddin*, a former broadcast journalist working in Kabul, and having fled to Karachi, residing below the radar, illegally, within the metropolis was tough. If arrested and deported, she mentioned, she would immediately be acknowledged since she had been “very vocal in my hatred for the Taliban, and they know my voice.”

She, her husband, two sons, and a sick daughter-in-law got here to Karachi in March 2022. “If they put us behind bars, how will we take care of my daughter-in-law?” she mentioned, including: “Because of the recent arrests, we have become caged in our home. I hardly go out; I am always anxious about being apprehended when I take my daughter-in-law to see the doctor for her monthly check-up.”

In keeping with official stories, about 250,000 Afghans have fled to Pakistan after the Taliban seized power in August 2021.

However the amnesty prolonged to these fleeing Afghanistan and getting into Pakistan with legitimate visas which have expired, terminated in December 2022.

To resume their visas, they should re-enter Afghanistan, which they nonetheless discover a harmful place.

A majority of those that fled feared they might discover themselves within the crosshairs of the Taliban. These included troopers, judges, journalists, human rights defenders, and people whom the Taliban despised, the Shia Hazaras, the LGBTQIA+, and people who have been musicians and singers. The financial immigrants who have been with out work in Afghanistan have been additionally among the many refugees.

Ziauddin finds deportations “very inhuman”.

Not solely is it inhuman, mentioned Umer Ijaz Gilani, an Islamabad-based lawyer, it’s a violation of the non-refoulement (forcibly returning refugees or asylum seekers the place they might be persecuted) precept. Appearing on behalf of 100 Afghan human rights defenders looking for asylum, he has urged the federal government’s Nationwide Fee on Human Rights to direct state authorities to not deport them. “We may have to take them to the court otherwise,” he advised IPS in a cellphone interview.

In keeping with Moniza Kakar, a Karachi-based younger human rights lawyer, Afghan refugees are being arrested throughout Pakistan. “They get deported immediately in other provinces, but in Sindh, the arrested Afghans are put behind bars for months, treated badly in prisons, fined, and then deported,” she mentioned.

Kakar helps within the launch of the Afghan refugees in Sindh. “So far, of the 1,400 arrested (including 200 women and 350 children), 600 have been released and deported,” she advised IPS.

“If a person lives illegally in any country, the government takes action and deals with them according to the law,” Sindh Info Minister Sharjeel Memon said, justifying the arrests. “Nobody has been sentenced to jail for more than two months,” he added. He additionally denied that youngsters have been put behind bars.

Kakar mentioned as a result of Pakistan had not adopted the 1951 Refugee Conference and its 1967 Protocol, “which stops states from punishing people who enter a country illegally”, it is ready to invoke the home Foreigners Act 1946 to make use of in opposition to Afghans residing in Pakistan illegally, to punish and deport them.

Of the imprisoned Afghans, Kakar mentioned, practically 400 had been arrested wrongfully as that they had legitimate paperwork that allowed them to remain in Pakistan. They remained incarcerated for months until their circumstances have been heard.

“Some Afghans arrested in Jacobabad have been sentenced to as much as six months rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 imposed on all males, and Rs 1,000 each on all minors and females,” she mentioned, contradicting Memon’s assertion to media. “Why were minors fined when the government claims they were not offenders or imprisoned?” she requested.

Kakar mentioned as a result of Pakistan had not adopted the 1951 Refugee Conference and its 1967 Protocol, “which stops states from punishing people who enter a country illegally”, it is ready to invoke the home Foreigners Act 1946 to make use of in opposition to Afghans residing in Pakistan illegally, to punish and deport them.

Amnesty Worldwide has urged the Pakistani authorities to cease the deportations and prolong assist to the refugees to allow them to reside with dignity and freed from worry of being returned to Afghanistan. In a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Agnes Callamard, secretary normal of Amnesty Worldwide, mentioned she discovered it alarming to notice the nation lacked nationwide laws for the safety of refugees and asylum seekers.

Pakistan might not have signed the worldwide refuge protocol, however, argued Lahore-based Sikander Shah, who teaches on the regulation college on the Lahore College of Administration Sciences, there have been a number of worldwide human rights conventions that Pakistan had adopted, just like the Worldwide Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Interna­t­i­­onal Covenant on Financial, Social and Cultural Rights, the Conference on the Elimination of all Types of Discrimination In opposition to Ladies, the Con­ve­n­­tion on the Rights of the Youngster, the Conference aga­inst Torture and Different Merciless, Inhuman or Degrading Therapy or Punishment, that may be “turned to, to help the hapless refugees”.

“My experience has been that the judges in Sindh do not empathize with the Afghan refugees,” identified Kakar. “In fact, one judge said in the open court that the refugees did not deserve to be looked at from a humanitarian lens; that they were criminals who were involved in terrorist activities in our country,” mentioned the younger rights activist bemoaning the open hostility prevalent not simply amongst different segments of society, however even her personal authorized fraternity.

She additionally mentioned the Afghans have been particularly ill-treated each by jail authorities and the inmates. “They complain of being lugged with more than their share of work and not always provided with meals,” mentioned Kakar.

Many say they face fixed discrimination.

Armineh Nasar* 21, one other refugee, who got here to Karachi final yr, in December 2021, along with her mom and three siblings, mentioned she had skilled a lot suspicion. “I have witnessed how Pakistani mothers pull away their children when they find out their kids are playing with Afghan kids. I’ve heard them say, we are terrorists,” she mentioned.

Earlier than the Taliban took over Kabul, Zalmai was working in Kabul in a nongovernmental group. However the motive she would discover herself on the unsuitable aspect of the Taliban if she have been deported was that, like Ziauddin, she had been “very vocal in my dislike of the Taliban, and they know who I am.” She fled along with her grandmother in January 2022 after her household obtained maintain of a hitlist of Taliban which had her identify on it as properly.

With a BA in economics, her dream of opening a boutique in Kabul’s upscale market has been dashed. “Right now, I work as a domestic help, sweeping floors, earning up to Rs 300 (USD 1.30 cents) for half a day’s work,” as a result of she can not discover any workplace work as it will require her to point out an identification card. “I had never done this kind of work even at home as I was either studying or working outside. “We are a family of seven; I’m the eldest, and I was the main bread earner of my family, earning Afghani 15,000 (USD 166) per month,” she advised IPS. Her father, a safety guard in an workplace, earned much less.

Like the opposite two, Nasar, too, can not discover work, so she retains hopping from one job to the opposite until the problem of paperwork comes up. “I’ve worked in an office and in a supermarket, each lasting three months, and then had to leave as I was unable to show any identity card.” Having studied until 12 grade in Kabul, she needed to enroll in increased research. “But the university administration wants to see a refugee card before giving me admission. I’ve missed a year because of that!” mentioned Nasar, who needs to check pc sciences and enter the career of banking.

However it isn’t simply that they can not work; with out documentation, Afghans can not entry housing or open financial institution accounts (to have the ability to obtain cash). Additionally they can not get hold of a SIM card or search medical therapy at a authorities facility.

With nobody in her household in a position to earn, Ziauddin mentioned she was fearful the household would quickly run out of cash. The money that they had after promoting her jewellery and home items to flee to Pakistan is drying up quick, as are all their financial savings.

“I am under a lot of anxiety that has caused my blood pressure to rise,” mentioned Ziauddin. Her physician had recommended she start strolling as a type of train, which she did, however she gave it up after she obtained robbed final month.

“If only the UNHCR could provide us with the documents stating we are refugees, we would not face so many problems,” she mentioned.

However it appears even the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees’ arms are tied.

Since 2021, the UNHCR has been in dialogue with the federal government on measures and mechanisms to assist susceptible Afghans. “Regrettably, no progress has been made,” mentioned UNHCR spokesperson Qaiser Khan Afridi.

He mentioned the refugee company was able to work with the federal government of Pakistan in figuring out Afghans in want of safety and to hunt options to their plight. However the latter has but to agree to acknowledge the newly arriving Afghans as refugees. “It does, however, allow Afghans in possession of a valid passport and visa to cross into Pakistan; the online visa application process is also available to those with passports.”

As well as, mentioned Afridi, in keeping with its mandate, the UNHCR strives to search out sturdy options for refugees. “But the realization of such solutions is beyond its control.” All of it is dependent upon nations to supply third-country resettlement alternatives or to permit refugees to naturalize as residents within the nation the place they sought asylum. “Resettlement, unfortunately, cannot be available for the entire refugee population as the opportunities are limited,” he agreed however mentioned the refugee company was urging RST (Refugee Standing Willpower) nations (like Pakistan) to extend the resettlement quotas.

*Names have been modified to guard their identification. 
IPS UN Bureau Report

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


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