Statement from Refugees International’s Senior Advocate for Women and Girls Devon Cone:
“Refugees International is deeply troubled by the announcement from the Pakistani government ordering all undocumented Afghans leave the country or face forced expulsions. The Pakistani government does not recognize Afghans who arrived after 2007 as refugees, despite widespread violence in Afghanistan and subsequent human rights abuses perpetrated by the Taliban following their takeover in 2021. Therefore, this drastic measure could affect almost 2 million people who have fled Afghanistan to seek safety in neighboring Pakistan, and will be particularly devastating to women and girls forced to return to the brutal repression of the Taliban.
We are especially concerned about Afghans who fled their country after August 2021 due to direct and targeted threats from the Taliban. These include human rights defenders, former government officials, former military leaders, judges, lawyers, activists, and journalists – many of them groundbreaking women leaders who have few other pathways to safety. They are at heightened risk of violence and reprisals from the Taliban. Expelling them back to Afghanistan would most likely result in their deaths. The consequences for Afghan women and girls are exceptionally high. UN experts have decried the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls inside of Afghanistan and have suggested it may amount to gender apartheid.
The government of Pakistan should not scapegoat an entire population of at-risk refugees based on the deplorable actions of Taliban militants known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). These are the same groups from whom Afghans fled. Pakistan has a long history of generously hosting their Afghan neighbors when they have been unsafe. Now is not the time to stop.”