Afghanistan: 'We live in fear' – desperate Afghan refugees expelled from Pakistan

As the deadline the Pakistani government gave to Afghan refugees to return home is looming, those, who have already returned, share their grim stories of what life is like in unstable, war tormented Afghanistan, from a refugee camp in Laghman Province, Saturday.

Pakistan, which is now hosting over 2.7 million Afghan refugees, set the end of January as the final deadline for refugees to return to Afghanistan.

The announcement to extend the period for one month was made in early January.

The dates have been extended several times, but the recent move is feared to be the last of its kind.

"We live here in fear, in tents and have no access to facilities," regrets one of the returned refugees.

Many Afghans have been living in Pakistan for decades and now have basically no other place to call home.

"I brought my family to Afghanistan few days ago, the situation in Afghanistan is not good and we request Pakistan to review their decision and not to send more Afghans back to Afghanistan," continues the Afghan refugee.

Such strive for accelerating deportation is explained by fighting militants that enter Pakistan from their neighbour. The battle was largely triggered by the attack on the Army Public School four years ago, when over 150 mostly children were killed.

The repatriation ultimatum was also announced following US accusations that Islamabad shelters some of the fiercest factions of the Taliban fighting US and Afghan soldiers in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The UN Refugee Agency is assisting in the repatriation process, but its efforts seem not to be enough.

"We had a good life back in Pakistan, we had all books and notebooks but, as we reached back Afghanistan there is nothing and we live in tents," says Malika, a returned Afghan refugee.

Malika as many other returned Afghan refugees, is now studying at an open air school.

Hasina, another student regrets that pupils lack basic necessities, "Even our teachers don't have books and we study without books," she adds.

Regretting the dire living conditions, refugees request the Pakistani authorities to "be good" to them and not to send more refugees back until the situation in Afghanistan improves.


SOT, Zaman, returned Afghan refugee (Pashto): "Pakistan should give time to Afghan immigrants, as for us other people are also facing same situation, we had come here time ago, people had businesses there but, the situation is not good here, clashes and other problems are going on here in Afghanistan."

SOT, Gul Meer, returned refugee (Pashto): "We request Pakistan to consider the bad situation in Afghanistan and give time to Afghan refugees and be good to them, later they can send us back."

SOT, Hasina, returned refugee (Pashto): "Pakistani president sent us out and we returned to our country, but here we study in tents, have less teachers and there is no stationery like pens and notebooks for us and there are also not enough books, even our teachers don't have books and we study without books."

SOT, Hasina, returned refugee (Pashto): "The Pakistani government should stop returning Afghan refugees and postpone it until the war comes to an end in this country."

SOT, Malika, returned refugee (Pashto): "I am Malika, we had a good life back in Pakistan, we had all books and notebooks but, as we reached back to Afghanistan, there is nothing and we live in tents."

SOT, Gul Meer, returned refugee (Pashto): "I brought my family to Afghanistan few days ago, the situation in Afghanistan is not good and we request Pakistan to review their decision and not to send more Afghans back to Afghanistan. We live here in fear, in tents and have no access to facilities."

SOT, Gul Meer, returned refugee (Dari): "The government of Pakistan should not expel Afghan refugees as long as there is a war going on here in Afghanistan."

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(Source: Ruptly TV, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hP4JQ6O5gbw)
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