Pakistan world’s largest host of refugees: UNHCR  report

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By Muhammad Luqman

The United Nations High Commissioner  for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that Pakistan is home to the largest refugee population in the world.

According to report of  UNHCR, Pakistan is hosting the largest number of refugees globally, which number more than 1.45 million in the country, and most of them hail from Afghanistan.

It further added that Pakistan unconditionally hosted millions of refugees and provided best possible facilities to affected people of different countries.

The report  praised Pakistan for giving special treatment for Afghan citizens when the Afghan war was on its peak. 1.45 million of them still live in Pakistan.

Pakistan has continued hosting Afghan refugees for more than three decades, it added.

Similarly, the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan to their own country was also the largest in the world, the report stated.

Since March 2002, UNHCR has facilitated the return of approximately 4.1 million registered Afghans from Pakistan.

The migration of Afghans  to Pakistan dates back to 1979 when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and occupied it. Besides , there are small numbers of Afghan asylum seekers, migrant workers, merchants, businesspeople, exchange students and diplomats. Most were born and raised in Pakistan and are under age 30, but are still considered citizens of Afghanistan. They are under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The first wave of Afghan refugees to Pakistan began during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the late 1970s. By the end of 2001, there were over four million. Most have returned to Afghanistan since 2002. The UNHCR reported in February 2017 that about 1.3 million registered Afghan citizens still remained in Pakistan, distributed as follows: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (81 percent); Punjab (10 percent); Balochistan (seven percent) and Sindh (one percent).

They are primarily Afghanistan’s Pashtuns, followed by Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Baloch and Turkmen. In March 2012, Pakistan banned visa extensions for all foreigners.

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