The federal government has decided to extend the stay of registered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan till June 30 next year, the Express Tribune reported on Friday.
The decision, notified by the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), comes during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s ongoing visit to Pakistan and days before the current extension ends on June 30, 2019.
“In pursuance of approval of the Federal Cabinet conveyed vide Cabinet Division’s Memorandum No.550(S)/Rule-19/2019-Cab, dated 27 June, 2019, the Government of Pakistan is pleased to extend the Validity in respect of Tripartite Agreement, Proof of Registration (PoR) Cards till 30-06-2020,” read the notification, quoted by the Express Tribune.
The ministry also announced an extension in the validity of Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC) till October 31, 2019.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also informed the Afghan president about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s decision, the report says.
Figures by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show that there are 1,405,715 registered Afghan refugees and 210,465 Afghan families in Pakistan as of June 3, 2019.
Statistics by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicate that 10,720 Afghans have returned home from Pakistan since the beginning of this year. Of the total figure, 8,421 have returned spontaneously, while 2,299 others were deported.
The UN refugee agency defines registered Afghans as those who have valid Proof of Registration cards issued by the Pakistani government, the report said.
The data shows the agency facilitated voluntary repatriation of 4,374,208 Afghan refugees from 2002 till December 4, 2018.
This year – till June 24, 2019 – UNHCR has facilitated the voluntary repatriation of 2,036 Afghan refugees, the Express Tribune says in the report.
At the UNHCR hosted and chaired 30th Tripartite Commission Meeting in Islamabad on June 18, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the refugee agency reaffirmed their commitment to upholding the principle of voluntary repatriation – in safety and dignity – under the Tripartite Agreement.
They called for enhanced efforts to create an environment conducive to voluntary return and sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan and vowed to continue supporting the host communities in Pakistan, within the framework of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).
All three stakeholders also expressed concern at the decrease in the voluntary repatriation grant provided to Afghan refugees and encouraged the international community to increase the cash grant to its previous level of approximately $400 per individual, the report said.