ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The National Assembly was informed on Wednesday said the process of repatriation of Afghan refugees had slowed down, and so far 70,000 refugees had returned to their homeland in 2017.
While speaking during the question-hour in the House, the Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Lt General Abdul Qadir Baloch said last year 640,000 Afghan refugees had been repatriated while this year 125,000 Afghan refugees were expected to return to their Country under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Voluntary Return Programme
The minister said the pace of Afghan refugees’ voluntarily return had affected due to reduction in stipend from $400 to $200 each refugee by UNHCR.
“The decline in number of Afghan refugees’ repatriation is because of reduction in refugees’ stipend from $400 to $200, and the government of Pakistan will take up the issue with the UN agency,” he said.
Baloch said prevailing law and order situation as well as deteriorating economic conditions besides unemployment issue in Afghanistan were some of the main reasons behind affected pace of the refugees’ return.
The SAFRON minister said the International community needed to create conducive condition in Afghanistan for repatriation of Afghan refugees to their homeland.
In reply to a supplementary question, the minister said four to five percent of total Afghan refugees living in Pakistan were doing business to earn livelihood while the rest were facing financial issues being migrants here.
Replying to another question, Abdul Qadir Baloch said launching polio campaigns in provinces was the responsibility of provincial governments, as far as the issue of access to Afghan refugee camps was concerned, all departments and non-governmental organizations were free to visit there for administering polio drops to children.
To yet another question, the minister said there was a relaxed visa policy for Afghan spouses of Pakistanis, Afghan students and skilled/talented workforce.