Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pakistan to expel Afghan refugees

Pakistan to expel Afghan refugees By Kamal Hyder in Peshawar

Bureaucratic tape is preventing almost two million Afghans from returning to their homeland
Afghan refugees in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar have been told by the Pakistani government that they have until April 15 to leave the country. The refugees cannot leave until paperwork is processed by the United Nations and Pakistan authorities. Refugees who miss the deadline may be open to prosecution by the Pakistani government. Hundreds of families waiting for their paperwork have spent weeks living in trucks, languishing in the heat without basic amenities or proper sanitation.

At least four million have left Afghanistan since Russian forces invaded their country in 1979. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says it cannot process refugee papers any quicker. It also said that some people may simply be looking for the $100 dollars that has been offered by the UN agency to those that register. Hundreds of trucks, paid for by the UNHCR to carry these people back to Afghanistan, have parked together to provide temporary respite for people who are angry about being mistreated.

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