Pakistan assures UN of hospitality towards Afghan refugees

19:38, December 31, 2009      

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Pakistan's Ministry of States and Frontier Regions assured the United Nations refugee agency that it will continue to extend its traditional hospitality to the 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees for the next three years, a UN statement said Wednesday.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the ministry submitted to Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani a draft of the Management and Repatriation Strategy for Afghan Refugees from 2010 to 2012 on Dec. 15 and decision on it would be finalized soon.

The government of Pakistan assured UNHCR that till the final decision by the cabinet, the registered Afghan refugees will be accorded due protection, and there will be no action taken against registered Afghans after Dec. 31, 2009

Pakistan also committed that the principles of voluntarism and gradualism, in relation to Afghan returns will be adhered to and it shall continue to respect international norms.

The management of stay for Afghans in Pakistan and their voluntary return are governed by a Tripartite Agreement signed between Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR. Under the Agreement, the three parties have agreed in principle to extend the stay of registered Afghans in Pakistan beyond 31 Dec. 2009, the official news agency APP reported.

Currently there are some 1.7 million registered Afghans living in camps and urban centres in Pakistan. More than 3.5 million Afghans have returned home under a UNHCR facilitated voluntary return programme since 2002.

Source: Xinhua
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