Islamabad, Rawalpindi prepare to host thousands of evacuees from Afghanistan

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Hotels, hostels and guesthouses directed to make preparations for those arriving from Kabul

Zubair Qureshi

The district administrations of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have finalized arrangements to accommodate thousands of foreigners and Afghan nationals arriving from Afghanistan in the next couple of weeks.

The hotels and guest houses in Islamabad have been identified by the district administration and there will be a swift transportation of these evacuees from Islamabad International Airport to these hotels, hostels and guest houses, according to the district administration.

The district administration of the Islamabad Capital Territory Authority has also written a letter to the hotels, hostels and guest houses of the federal capital to make emergency arrangements and give rooms on priority basis to those foreigners and the Afghan nationals who have recently been evacuated from Afghanistan.

If there is need, university and college hostels will be used for their accommodation, said an official of the district administration.

A large number of them are on their way to foreign countries and currently have the status of transit passengers.

While talking to Pakistan Observer Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat refuted the news that the hotels and guest houses were directed to cancel reservations of the local tourists or turn away those already checked in.

“There is no truth in such news, we have only asked them to give priority to the transit passengers or foreign/Afghan nationals,” said the Deputy Commissioner.

An official of the district administration told 10,000 to 15,000 Afghan nationals and foreigners— 2,000 to 2,200 evacuees per day—evacuated from Afghanistan were expected to arrive at the International Airport of Islamabad in the next couple of weeks.

Majority of them will be accommodated in Karachi and Lahore and arrangements have already been made in this regard.

However, only those who need to be accommodated on an emergency basis will be settled in Islamabad hotels, he said.

Meanwhile, in Rawalpindi, the district administration has identified around 150 hotels and hostels to accommodate people arriving from Afghanistan and prepared the list of hostels of universities and colleges if space issue arises.

According to the district administration, Rawalpindi and Islamabad district administrations were asked to make arrangements for accommodating more than 15,000 people coming in the next two or three weeks.

An official of the district government said the local administration had made arrangements to accommodate the people in the hotels in the first step and in case of space constraint, the people arriving from Afghanistan will be accommodated in the marriage halls and then “we can use hostels of universities and colleges”.

He said it was expected that the people from Afghanistan would be accommodated in Islamabad first and then shifted to Rawalpindi. He said the arrangements had been finalized in Rawalpindi.

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