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Members of a Thai delegation talk to Afghan refugees during a visit to Registration Card Modification Centre at Azakhel, Nowshera, on Tuesday. — Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya
Members of a Thai delegation talk to Afghan refugees during a visit to Registration Card Modification Centre at Azakhel, Nowshera, on Tuesday. — Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya

PESHAWAR: Pakistan was still hosting 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in addition to 850,000 Afghan citizen card holders, a delegation of Thailand was told on Tuesday.

The 16-member delegation comprising senior officials of various ministries and departments of Thailand visited Registration Card Modification Centre for Afghan Refugees in Azakhel, Nowshera on Tuesday, said a statement.

Mr Pichit Boonsud, deputy director general of Department of International Organisations (Thailand), was heading the delegation.

The senior officers of ministry of interior, office of National Security Council, Royal Thai Police, immigration bureau, ministry of social development and human security, ministry of public health and office of the council of state were briefed about process of registration of refugees.

Director General Afghan Refugees Waqar Maroof briefed the delegation on government policy about the refugees.

He informed the delegation that RCM system had been operational since 2002 to facilitate voluntary return of refugees to their country.

He said that manual system was installed before 2002 that was not effective following which RCM was introduced. He said that 4.443 million refugees had been repatriated between 2002 and 2018.

He said that RCM was installed with the financial support of UNHCR to resolve issues related to PoR cards including registration, modification, birth registration and death registration.

Mr Maroof said that Pakistan was still hosting 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in addition to 850,000 Afghan citizen card holders besides undocumented Afghans. He told the delegation that the government had extended stay of 1.4 million registered refugees.

He said that Afghan Commissionerate with financial and technical support of UNHCR had been providing education and health facilities to refugees in refugee villages.

He said that 17 basic health units were operational at the refugee villages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The delegation was informed about facilities provided to returnees at voluntary repatriation centre in Azakhel.

The official chart shows that repatriation of refugees is going slow as 6,647 PoR card holders had returned from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Afghanistan since March last. Majority of the returnees had moved to Kabul.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018