Thu, Oct

Pakistan to extend Afghan refugees stay for 2 years: Balkhi



Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, minister for refugees and repatriation, on Saturday said Pakistan pledged to extend Afghan refugees’ stay for two more years.

The announcement came following a trilateral meeting in Kabul attended by Balkhi, his Pakistani counterpart and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).Balkhi said Pakistan’s officials promised to extend stay of the Afghan refugees in Pakistan without forcing out any refugees.Balkhi said more than three million Afghan refugees lived in Pakistan out of which 1.7 million lived legally while more than one million did not have legal documents.He said a bilateral and trilateral agreement was also signed with Pakistan’s government and UNHCR.“We presented our policy regarding refugees’ repatriation which was accepted. Until their return, we will provide them with different facilities. Pakistan has promised not to harass or forcefully repatriate them until then,” Balkhi added.According to him, Pakistan also promised to extend the stay permit of 1.5 million refugees that expired in next four months to another two years.“In the trilateral meetings, it was agreed to find a legal framework for extending of those permits that expire on December 31, 2015,” Balkhi said, adding that registration process for refugees without documents would start in 21 areas in Pakistan.He said a 100-persons delegation would also be sent from ministry of refugees to identify the people without documents.Abdul Qadir Baloch, Pakistan minister for border affairs, said his country would honor its promises to extend the permit documents and take steps in order to register those without documents.Maya Ameratunga, UNHCR’s special representative for Afghanistan, said: “We welcome the new strategy by both governments who have committed to find solution to refugees’ problems.”