ISLAMABAD, Dec 12: The Pakistan government has effexctively checked the much-feared influx of Afghan refugees, by deployment of troops, surveillance, and patroling along the Afghan border, informed official sources told Dawn on Wednesday.
In the aftermath of the Bonn accord and the reported surrender by Taliban in Kandahar the authorities feared an extraordinary movement of Afghans. But the Pakistan government didn’t let this happen.
Instead of the influx of refugees, there are reports of thousands of Afghan refugees returning home in the hope of stability after Hamid Karzai’s nomination as the future head of government in Kabul.
Around 70,000 refugees are reported to have returned to Afghanistan last month; the main reason being the timely supply of food inside Afghanistan. The WFP was doing herculean job by transporting 52,000 tons od wheat inside Afghanistan every month, officials said.
Interestingly, the government, in order have humanitarian assistance discontinued in 1995, has asked for extra funds.
It may be recalled that the government had retrenched almost 80 per cent staff of the Afghan refugees commissionerates in Peshawar and Quetta after 1995 when the flow of international funding dried up.
The office of the chief commissionerate Afghan refugees, earlier wound up, was revived and the reorganization of the refugee management structure launched.
Not only that the establishment expenditures would now be borne by the international community, material support to the old refugees would also be continued.
Revival of the chief commissioner’s office, though technically untenable and unviable, the authorities decided in its favour to extract maximum resources to create employment opportunities, the sources said.
Another achievement of the government in refugee management was that it convinced the UN bodies to shift major chunks of refugees from concentrations in settled areas to the bordering areas with Afghanistan.
This strategy is believed to serve multifaceted objectives, a) the refugees, mostly from Pakhtoon background, will be better off with predominantly Pakhtoon population; and b) majority of them would perforce plan repatriation to their homeland after finding no place for permanent settlement in the urban population.
Defying the Pakistan government and the UN agencies, including the UNHCR estimation of over two million refugees influx, no more then 0.2 million refugees have crossed the borders in three months, sources maintained.
An official said that the government had ensured that its policy of complete closure of borders was implemented in letter and spirit, and hence, sporadic exodus was noted from unfrequented routes.
Their number is small and they do not become a burden for the relief agencies, since they get absorbed in local population, official said.
Also, the shifting of Afghan refugees from Jallozai camp in Peshawar to newly-established camp in Bajaur agency in the NWFP, and from Faizu killi to Roghani camps across the border, is progressing well, besides migration of non-Pakhtoon refugees to Parachinar in Kurram agency, the officials said.