January 22, 2018 – Fort Russ News – Paul Antonopoulos
LAGHMAN, Afghanistan – 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.
Many Afghans have been living in Pakistan for decades and now have basically no other place to call home. 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.
Such strive for accelerating deportation is explained by fighting militants that enter Pakistan from their neighbor. The battle was largely triggered by the attack on the Army Public School four years ago, when over 150 mostly children were killed.
“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,” said an Afghan refugee.
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.
Hasina, another student regrets that pupils lack basic necessities, “Even our teachers don’t have books and we study without books,” she adds.
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.
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.