Every room in the building housed a whole Afghan family, and every family had a heartbreaking story of fear and loss. This was a safe house near Islamabad for Afghan refugees from the persecuted Hazara Shia community. At the moment, it is one of several places in Pakistan sheltering vulnerable people – from musicians to persecuted minorities – who have fled Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s leaders have said, however, they cannot and will not take in any more refugees and so these refugees are stuck in a kind of limbo. They do not appear to be able to claim asylum in Pakistan, they cannot legalise their status, they cannot leave Pakistan and they fear death going home.
Countries who intervened in Afghanistan, including the UK, have to step up and work on providing resettlement places for vulnerable Afghans, even those who have not worked directly with their embassies, military or organisations. They also need to help build a safe and effective mechanism and pathway inside and outside of Afghanistan for those that need to get out.
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