Refugees forced back to Afghanistan face squalid, freezing conditions in camps

Pakistan has begun deporting 1.7 million Afghan nationals back across the border – and straight into tent cities full of diseases, reports Arpan Rai

Thursday 23 November 2023 15:55 GMT
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<p>Afghan refugees walk through a makeshift camp upon their arrival from Pakistan, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province</p>

Afghan refugees walk through a makeshift camp upon their arrival from Pakistan, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan Torkham border in Nangarhar province

With winter temperatures setting in and rates of infectious disease soaring, aid agencies say they are deeply concerned about the conditions facing Afghan refugees as they are forced to return to makeshift open-air relief camps in their home country.

In a snap decision last month, Pakistan warned it would deport about 1.7 million undocumented Afghan nationals. Since then, officials in that country have been carrying out sweeps through refugee settlements hunting for undocumented immigrants.

Of the Afghans targeted in this process only around half a million fled to escape the Taliban after it seized power in 2021. A large number had fled during the 1979-89 Soviet war, while others crossed the border during the Taliban’s first spell in power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

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