Pakistan To Extend Stay Of Afghan Refugees For One Year

Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have unanimously agreed on a joint 12-point declaration aimed at the “safe and honorable” repatriation of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan for the past four decades, according to Pakistan media reports. 

In a declaration issued at the end of the three parties’ meeting in Islamabad, they expressed their commitment to extend the existing Tripartite Agreement governing the voluntary repatriation of Afghan citizens living in Pakistan, local English daily Dawn reported on Wednesday.

In the meantime, a member of Pakistan’s Preme Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity that the government had, in principle, decided to extend the stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan until June 2020.

He said Khan would formally announce the decision during Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s upcoming visit to Islamabad.

Earlier this week, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and the UNHCR urged the international community to support countries hosting millions of refugees.

The demand came during the Sixth Quadripartite Steering Committee Meeting in Islamabad, where they discussed the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and Iran.

The committee called for joint efforts to create an environment conducive to a phased, orderly and voluntary return of refugees, as well as their reintegration into Afghanistan and better support for host communities in Iran and Pakistan, according to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

The UNHCR also praised Pakistan and Iran for hosting Afghan refugees and said it would help communities hosting refugees in their countries.

The legal stay of 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees would end June 30 under the current plan.

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