ARO Director Says Most Afghan Refugees in Balochistan Are Not Registered

The Baloch Hal News

QUETTA: The Director Operation Afghan Refugees Organization, Major Farzand Ali, has said that majority of the Afghan refugees had not got themselves registered due to fear that they would be forcefully repatriated to Afghanistan.

He said that there was no legislation to deal with refugees who had been living in Balochistan for the past three decades.

He expressed these views during a workshop titled “Sensitization and Capacity Building Media” held at Quetta Club here on Wednesday.

Ali said that a population verification survey under Management and Repatriation Strategy for Afghan Refugees (MRSAR) was recently carried out in three districts Quetta, Pishin and Qila Abdullah but we were yet to get any feedback that what were the basic requirements of Afghan Refugees living in Balochistan.

He pointed out that financially sound refugees had already obtained National Identity Cards and settled in urban areas.

He said there were 150 unfrequented routes along with Pak-Afghan borders where keeping a strict check on cross border movement was impossible that was why often a large number of the refugees return back after volunteer repatriation to their hometowns. “About one million refugees repatriated in 2004 out of which 80 per cent returned back to Pakistan due to the law and order situation in their country,” he added.

He said that he had been dealing the Afghan refugees for the past three years and had observed that no one knew the exact figure of unregistered refugees. “There is a need of serious legislation to deal the refugees because despite the lapse of three decades nothing has been done,” Major Farzand Ali said.

According to UNHCR, about 3500,000 Afghan refugees are registered while there are uncountable refugees who are not registered yet.

Associate Protection Officer UNHCR, Arbab Muhammad Zahir said the MRSAR meant to legalize the stay of Afghan refugees so that they could easily earn their livelihood.

He agreed that most of the refugees returned back to Pakistan and said Afghanistan was also working on it to improve the law and order situation.

The leaders of Pakistan Labour Federation Sultan Muhammad Khan while defending the stay of Afghan Refugees said many refugees from India and Iran had also taken shelter in Pakistan and now had become Pakistani citizen. Therefore, all the refugees shall be treated equally, he added.

The participants deliberated the agreement inked between Government of Pakistan and UNHCR allowing some 1.7 million Afghan refugees to continue sheltering in the country until the end of 2012.

Pakistan has allowed 150,000 unskilled Afghan refugees to prolong their stay in this country through an agreement with Afghanistan and UNHCR.

It may be mentioned here that the presence of Afghan refugees both registered and unregistered is a source of irking people in Balochistan as political and nationalist leaders have been demanding for immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees to their land.