Torkham Border Closed For Afghan Nationals Sans Documents

This decision is particularly significant given the annual influx of thousands of Afghans, particularly those with severe medical conditions like cancer, seeking treatment in neighbouring countries, with Pakistan being a common destination….reports Asian Lite News

The Torkham border, a crucial crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been shut for Afghan nationals lacking passports and visas, as the Pakistani government intensifies efforts to repatriate Afghan migrants, Khaama Press reported on Sunday.

The information and culture department in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province issued a statement confirming the closure of the Torkham border for patients lacking proper documentation, including visas and passports.

Previously, patients without passports and visas were permitted to enter Pakistan through the Torkham crossing, subject to approval from the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan.

This decision is particularly significant given the annual influx of thousands of Afghans, particularly those with severe medical conditions like cancer, seeking treatment in neighbouring countries, with Pakistan being a common destination, according to Khaama Press.

Pakistan’s recent move to tighten border controls and repatriate Afghan migrants coincides with the United Nations Human Rights Office’s earlier call on Pakistan to cease the expulsion process, citing the potential for a “human rights catastrophe.”

The expulsion of Afghan migrants is unfolding amid a harsh winter, exacerbating the already critical humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Forced to leave, Afghan migrants are grappling with challenging conditions, especially considering the severe winter weather, which further compounds the dire humanitarian situation in the country.

In response to these developments, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has initiated a review of a petition filed by human rights activists on Friday.

The petition urges the cessation of the expulsion of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, highlighting the ongoing legal and human rights dimensions of the situation, Khaama Press reported.

Over 253K Repatriated From KP

As part of the ongoing drive to repatriate illegal Afghan immigrants in Pakistan, a total of 253,068 people returned until December 2 through three border points in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan, ARY News reported on Monday.

A Pakistan-based media outlet reported, citing the KP Home Department, that 248,890 immigrants were repatriated through Torkham, 3,479 people through Angor Adda Waziristan, and 698 people via Kharlachi Kurram district.

Moreover, a total of 5064 people including 114 from Islamabad, 873 from Punjab, and 24 from Azad Kashmir were deported through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Earlier, the caretaker Provincial Information Minister Jan Achakzai reiterated the government’s resolve and said that the illegal immigrants will be repatriated to their own country at any cost.

Addressing a press conference, he said the government has set a target of deporting 10,000 immigrants every day. So far 135,000 illegal immigrants have returned to Afghanistan and this process is gradually progressing towards success, ARY News reported.

He said that Afghans were involved in sixteen attacks in different bomb attacks and sabotage incidents during one year.

ARY News reported that the government has decided that ten thousand illegal immigrants will be sent to Afghanistan every day, reiterating that anyone who has an Afghani Tazkira or any other document cannot escape following the government policies regarding one document regime.

He stressed that Pakistan has decided to crack down on terrorism, whether from across the border or within the country.

Iran’s Curbs

Iran has prohibited the entry of Afghan nationals and their settlements in 16 provinces of Iran, according to Khaama Press, citing Iranian media.

The Director-General of Foreign Nationals and Immigrants Affairs in the Iran’s Kermanshah Province, Hamza Suleimani, reported that undocumented immigrants in these provinces will be detained and deported.

Following this, the governor of Kermanshah announced that since March 2023, eight phases of a plan to identify, detain and deport undocumented immigrants have been implemented in Kermanshah Province.

According to the report, entry, presence, and settlement in the Iran’s provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardabil, Zanjan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Lorestan, Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Gilan, Mazandaran, Sistan and Baluchestan, Hormozgan, and Hamedan have been declared prohibited.

Moreover, as per the report published on Saturday, a considerable number of Afghan workers employed by Iranian employers have been detained.

This came as 2000 Afghan migrants forcibly and voluntarily returned to Afghanistan on Friday.

Notably, the expulsion of Afghan migrants and refugees from Pakistan and Iran has surged in the past weeks, according to Khaama Press.

Earlier this week, Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Wahidi said the country will deport Afghan immigrants who lack permits, TOLO News reported.

As per Iranian media reports, Wahidi said that there are currently 5 million Afghan refugees living in Iran.

Some refugee rights activists expressed concerns regarding the situation of Afghan immigrants in Iran.

Immigrants’ rights activist Mohammad Khan Talibi said: “The Afghan immigrants in Iran are facing challenges due to not having legal living permits.” (ANI)

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