The federal government has decided to extend the stay of registered Afghan refugees living in Pakistan till June 30, 2020.
The decision, notified by the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), comes during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s ongoing visit to Pakistan and days before the current extension ends on June 30, 2019.
“In pursuance of approval of the Federal Cabinet conveyed vide Cabinet Division’s Memorandum No.550(S)/Rule-19/2019-Cab, dated 27 June, 2019, the Government of Pakistan is pleased to extend the Validity in respect of Tripartite Agreement, Proof of Registration (PoR) Cards till 30-06-2020,” read the notification.
The ministry also announced an extension in the validity of Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC) till October 31, 2019.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also informed the Afghan president about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s decision.
As per data collected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were 1,405,715 registered Afghan refugees and 210,465 Afghan families in Pakistan as of June 3, 2019.
The UN refugee agency defines registered Afghans as those who have valid Proof of Registration (PoR) cards issued by the Pakistani government.
The data shows the agency facilitated voluntary repatriation of 4,374,208 Afghan refugees from 2002 till December 4, 2018.
This year – till June 24, 2019 – UNHCR has facilitated the voluntary repatriation of 2,036 Afghan refugees.
At the UNHCR hosted and chaired 30th Tripartite Commission Meeting in Islamabad on June 18, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the refugee agency reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the principle of voluntary repatriation – in safety and dignity – under the Tripartite Agreement.
They called for enhanced efforts to create an environment conducive to voluntary return and sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan, and vowed to continue supporting the host communities in Pakistan, within the framework of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).
All three stakeholders also expressed concern at the decrease in the voluntary repatriation grant provided to Afghan refugees and encouraged the international community to increase the cash grant to its previous level of approximately $400 per individual.