Protracted Afghan refugee crisis

UNITED Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has described the decades-long stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan as ‘a protracted refugee crisis’ and urged the world community not to forget the displaced people. Talking to media personnel after visiting the Voluntary Repatriation Centre (VRC) for Afghan refugees at Azakhel, Nowshera, he said the stay of Afghans in Pakistan for nearly four decades was one of the longest refugee situations in the world.
It is good of UNHCR High Commissioner to have visited Pakistan to assess the refugee situation for himself and one expects on the basis of his firsthand knowledge and information he would sensitise the UN system as well as international community to come forward and provide required assistance for upkeep of the refugees besides complementing efforts for their early repatriation to their homeland. The UNHCR has acknowledged it as a protracted refugee crisis but he was adamant not to accept that the refugees would never go back to their country, as are fears by many in Pakistan because of their experience of the past attempts aimed at voluntary repatriation. It is known to all that most of the Afghan refugees get full benefits of repatriation, cross over to Afghanistan and return back to Pakistan on first available opportunity. This vicious circle is going on for decades playing havoc with socio-economic fabric of Pakistan but no remedial measures have been taken.
People of Pakistan must be given credit for hosting refugees for so long despite their own problems and challenges but the situation cannot be allowed to linger on further and steps will have to be taken for full and final repatriation. How can Pakistan manage the refugee crisis on its own when the world is dragging its feet and the country has to go for loans to run its affairs? There are many areas inside Afghanistan that are secure and refugees can be settled there if not to their original homes because of security concerns or lack of economic opportunities.

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