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No place to call home: The ongoing plight of Afghan refugees

Afghan+displaced+families
Wikipedia, Public Domain
Afghan displaced families

Since the Taliban came back to power in Afghanistan, approximately one million Afghan people have been displaced, whether internally or internationally due to concerns related to political instability and economic insecurity. In the year 2021 alone, around 700,000 Afghans sought refuge in various regions of Pakistan, their neighboring country. However, since October 31, a disheartening turn of events has unfolded, with approximately 1.7 million Afghans confronting the threat of deportation back to a homeland they had previously fled in a desperate need to save their lives.

I express my gratitude for the respected Pakistan government who has had a longstanding history of hosting Afghan refugees, reaching from the period of 1979-1989 during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Similarly, in 2021, the withdrawal of the US and NATO from Afghanistan resulted in the resurgence of Taliban rule, prompting yet another wave of over half a million refugees seeking safety and sanctuary in Pakistan.

However, the expulsion of approximately 1500 Afghans each day to Afghanistan has disheartened not only Afghans but every human’s heart around the world. It is especially not a fair action as a significant portion of these refugees have been waiting for their protracted immigration processes and humanitarian visa delays by UNHCR, and the country members. Although the concerns of Pakistan and the Pakistani people are understandable, I ask them to wear the shoes of their  displaced neighbors. The majority of them are innocent people who had advocated for justice and democracy prior to the Taliban’s regime. They had to leave their home, some their families, to save their lives from the Taliban’s violence and torture who are hostile to freedom of any kind. I believe it is important for the government of Pakistan to consider the stark reality of the Taliban’s violent laws and treatment, particularly towards the Afghan women, as they make their political decisions. 

A major portion of the refugees are the individuals who have been awaited by the long humanitarian visa processes in Pakistan. My oldest sister and her family waited for their Canadian asylum applications for more than two years. They didn’t have the choice to come back home where they were at least safe.  Many families have had the same tragic experience. Who will be responsible if anything happens to them?

I implore the Pakistani government to reconsider its policies concerning the vulnerable refugees. In addition to the threats from the Taliban, the fate of these individuals, particularly after the devastating earthquakes that left hundreds of thousands of Afghans internally displaced just a few weeks ago, can surely be assumed a humanitarian crisis. Afghanistan is grappling with a hunger crisis and security already, and the returning refugees will only worsen it.

With over 6.1 million people internally displaced in Afghanistan, fighting  dire circumstances, having a safe home in Pakistan is the least thing Pakistan and the other UN nations can do as Afghanistan recovers from the political and natural disasters.

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About the Contributor
Sharifa Hunarwar, Copy Editor
Sharifa Hunarwar is a senior at San Domencio School and a contributor to The Panther Press. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, music and mountain biking.

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