Diplomat says Afghan govt to resettle returning refugees

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PESHAWAR: Afghan Consul General Dr Abdullah Waheed Poyan has said that a 100-member delegation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan will meet President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul this week and apprise him of the problems related to their repatriation and resettlement in Afghanistan.
Talking to The Media, he said the Afghan government was making arrangements for resettlement of those refugees who were returning to their homeland under the UNHCR’s volunteer repatriation programme. “The Afghan government is taking extra steps for proper resettlement and rehabilitation of the Afghan refugees,” he said. He added that the Afghan Embassy in Pakistan had started ‘Gul Watan Khpal Watan’ campaign to convince the Afghan refugees to return to their country.
However, Dr Poyan said the Afghan refugees, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, were being harassed and tortured on different pretexts which he termed a clear violation of the international agreement for protecting the rights of refugees.
“We are thankful to Pakistan government and its people for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for more than three decades,” he said. However, he added that under the tripartite agreement, the Pakistan government was bound to protect the lives and properties of the legal Afghan refugees until the end of the current year.
He pointed out that the repatriation process had been expedited over the last two months and about 20,000 families had gone back to Afghanistan via the Torkham border to-date.
“Most of the Afghans have their businesses, properties and household belongings in Pakistan and they need time and assurances to settle things before returning to their homeland,” he argued. He asked the Pakistan government to make alternate arrangements to resolve the issues facing the Afghan refugees.
To a question, Dr Abdullah Poyan said that officials of the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar had been in contact with the UNHCR regarding the problems being faced by Afghan refugees at the Repatriation Centre in Peshawar. “The intending returnees at UNCHR Centre in Chamkani have been waiting for hours under the open sky for their turn and there was no proper shelter, drinking water and other facilities outside the centre,” he said. He suggested that the UNCHR should increase its staff at the centre for quick registration.
He said that after his meetings with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor, chief minister, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly speaker and Senior Minister Sikandar Sherpao, the provincial government had asked the police and other organisations not to arrest or harass the Afghan refugees having legal documents for their stay in the province.