Pakistan says it will extend the validity of proof-of-registration cards of 1.45 million Afghan refugees by one year.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan has announced it will extend the registration cards of nearly 1.5 million Afghan refugees after a senior UN official called for a halt to deportation plans from the country.

The federal cabinet approved a one-year extension of POR (Proof of Registration) cards for 1.45 million Afghan refugees. Their POR cards have expired on June 30, 2024. has been extended till June 30, 2025,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement after the end of the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The announcement came after talks on the status of refugees between Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) chief Filippo Grandi, who visited Pakistan earlier this week. was

Sharif told Grandi that the international community should recognize the “burden shouldered” by Pakistan as it hosts a large refugee population, and show “collective responsibility”, on Tuesday. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Pakistan has been hosting millions of Afghan refugees since the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. The latest influx began in August 2021 when the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan, prompting an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 Afghans to seek refuge in neighboring Pakistan.

Last November, Pakistan launched a widely criticized repatriation program aimed at bringing back millions of Afghans, regardless of their legal status.

According to the government, Pakistan currently hosts about 3 million Afghans, of whom about 2.4 million have some form of legal documentation. About 1.5 million of them have a UNHCR Resident Card and another 800,000 have an Afghan Citizenship Card (ACC).

An official from the Afghan Commissionerate, the government agency responsible for Afghan refugees in the country, said that more than 600,000 refugees have returned to Afghanistan so far, with more than 30,000 being deported and the rest returning voluntarily. Are coming.

UNHCR chief Grandi acknowledged the challenges facing Pakistan and appreciated that the repatriation program had now been “suspended”, and expressed hope that it would remain so, UNHCR said. According to a statement by R.

“We need to seize this opportunity to accelerate solutions and have a broader vision for the Afghan people in Pakistan,” Grandi said.

The Afghan Commissionerate official, who requested anonymity, also confirmed that the plan has been temporarily halted, with no evictions or deportations taking place at border crossings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan provinces. Is.

“These days, the border is completely calm, and Afghan families are not facing harassment or arrests,” the official told Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

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