Pakistan Must Reverse Disastrous Decision to Deport Afghan Refugees

Statement from Refugees International: 

“Tomorrow is the government of Pakistan’s arbitrary deadline for unrecognized Afghan refugees living in the country to leave before they will be forcibly deported. We are gravely concerned about the consequences of pushing 1.7 million people back to harm in Afghanistan, a country in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and human rights catastrophe. If Pakistan makes good on this threat, it would constitute one of the largest cases of refoulement in history.

Already, Refugees International has heard reports of increased harassment by police, landlords evicting Afghan tenants, the demolitions of houses of Afghan refugees, and Pakistani authorities rounding up Afghans for arrest. More than 70,000 Afghans have already been coerced to return to Afghanistan this month, fearing deportation. Some of those slated for deportation—including prominent Afghan women leaders who had to flee the Taliban—have pending resettlement cases to the United States and elsewhere. 

For many Afghans who fled specific threats from the Taliban, forced return will be tantamount to a death sentence. For women and girls, forced return will mean living in a state of gender apartheid. The government of Pakistan must reverse this disastrous and cruel decision and rescind the deportation order.

Refugees International recommends that:

  • The government of Pakistan should reverse its decision to deport unregistered refugees and abide by its international legal obligations, which include non-refoulement
  • The government of Pakistan should register all Afghans and provide them with documentation that allows them to stay in Pakistan while they remain at risk of persecution in Afghanistan.
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) should fulfill its mandate to protect the rights of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, including vocally opposing this mass refoulement, pushing to register Afghan nationals, and working to get Afghans in Pakistan out of detention.
  • International donors should commit to increasing  humanitarian assistance to Pakistan so that Pakistan can continue to sustainably host refugees. 
  • The United States should prioritize relocation for Afghan women political leaders at-risk of persecution by the Taliban, and make long-overdue changes to increase the efficiency of SIV, P-1 and P-2 resettlement pathways from Pakistan. 

The world abandoned Afghans in 2021, they cannot do it again.”

A Refugees International team traveled to Pakistan earlier this year to look at the situation for Afghan refugees there and released the report, “They Left Us Without Any Support”: Afghans in Pakistan Waiting for Solutions.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Refugees International Media and Communications Manager Etant Dupain at 

Featured image: A bulldozer is being used to demolish houses of Afghan refugees at a refugee camp in Islamabad on October 31, 2023. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)