With forced returns on unregistered Afghan refugees set to commence today, Amnesty International Australia has called on the Pakistan government to reverse its decision, and urgently asked the Australian Government and international community to save lives and fend off a looming humanitarian crisis. Having supported Afghan human rights defenders, women at risk, artists, and former government officials, Amnesty International Australia is deeply concerned for the safety of Afghan communities in Pakistan. Amnesty International Australia’s Refugee Rights Campaigner, Zaki Haidari has said:
“This news is deeply concerning for Amnesty International Australia and the Afghan diaspora community. Many members of the community in Australia have family members currently residing in Pakistan, awaiting their humanitarian applications to be processed for third country resettlement. We know most of the recent refugees that have entered Pakistan are high profile individuals, human rights defenders, and ethnic and religious minorities. Their deportation means subjecting them to persecution from the Taliban regime.
“We are asking the international community to negotiate with the government of Pakistan to stop another humanitarian crisis and save thousands of lives while their search for safety continues. We are also calling on the Australian government to expedite Afghan humanitarian applications and to increase its humanitarian intake to bring Afghan refugees to safety.”
Ahead of the Pakistan Government’s deadline for forced deportations of unregistered Afghan refugees, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Senior Director, overnight said:
“Amnesty International strongly reiterates its call to the Government of Pakistan to immediately reverse its decision to forcibly deport unregistered Afghan refugees ahead of the deadline set for tomorrow. Pakistan must meet its international legal obligations including the principle of non-refoulement and stop the crackdown against, and harassment of, Afghan refugees across the country.
“Amnesty International is also calling on the international community to financially support Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees, and to share the responsibility to provide protection to those fleeing persecution in Afghanistan.
“More than 1.4 million refugees are at risk of being uprooted from the place they’ve taken refuge and called home. There is still time for Pakistan to act swiftly today to avoid creating a crisis where families are rendered homeless, denied access to livelihood and basic services and separated in the lead up to the harsh winter months.
“This would particularly put women and girls in grave danger as they would be exposed to persecution and other serious human rights violations simply because of their sex and their gender. For an overwhelming majority of them living and studying in Pakistan may be their only chance of gaining a formal education. A significant number of Afghan refugees including journalists, human rights defenders, women protestors, artists, and former government officials and security personnel would also be at imminent risk of persecution and repression by the Taliban, if forced to return to Afghanistan.
“Afghan refugees’ lives and rights are at stake due to the collective failure of the Pakistan Government and the international community to share the responsibility for their protection. This is simply unacceptable.”
Amnesty International has previously documented the harassment meted out to Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
In the last 12 months, Amnesty has also sent correspondence to the Pakistani government to raise concerns regarding the delays in registration, harassment and discrimination faced by Afghan refugees in the country. Last week, Amnesty International wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan urging him to reverse its decision to forcibly return Afghan refugees to Afghanistan