ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is the largest refugee-hosting country in the world with currently hosting some 1.6 million registered refugees.
The data released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on the World Refugees Day say that the Afghanistan remains the world’s leading source of refugees. According to figures, around 2.6 million Afghan refugees are currently living worldwide with the majority hosted by Pakistan. Thus, Pakistan is the largest protracted refugee situation globally.
Since March 2002, UNHCR has facilitated the return of 3.8 million registered Afghans from Pakistan in the world’s largest voluntary repatriation operation, said the official document of UNHCR. The Government of Pakistan, with UNHCR assistance, issues new refugee cards to more than 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees. These Proof of Registration (PoR) cards are valid till the end of 2015.
Pakistan’s Cabinet decided in July of 2013 to further extend the temporary stay of Afghan refugees. The refugee card is important as it provides for Afghans to legally remain in Pakistan and thereby protects against risks such as extortion, arbitrary arrest and detention as well as deportation under Pakistan’s Foreigner’s Act.
Efforts to promote durable solutions for Afghans are being pursued through the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR), launched at an international conference in Geneva in May 2012, complemented by the Government of Pakistan’s national policy on Afghan refugees adopted in July 2013. UNHCR will continue to advocate for Pakistan to adopt national legislation on refugees, said UNHCR.