MANSEHRA: Thirty-two Afghan families have left for their country here as authorities begin a nationwide crackdown on foreign nationals without legal documents, a local official said.

Seven of them were registered with local authorities, head of the security department at the Chief Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees in Mansehra district Adeel Shah told Dawn.

He said the Afghan nationals, who lived in refugee camps and held official permission to stay in the country, shouldn’t be worried as authorities won’t deport them.

The official said that 25 families, which returned on their own, were undocumented and illegally lived in Mansehra’s refugee camps.

He said that he didn’t know how many illegal Afghans living in other parts of the district had left for their country since the launch of a crackdown.

Mr Shah said under its voluntary repatriation programme, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees paid $370 to every returning Afghan.

He said the return of Afghan families under the programme was under way.

“Seven families have left refugee camps in Mansehra under the UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation scheme,” he said.

The official said the Chief Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees expected high repatriation rates in the days ahead due to “record inflation” in Pakistan.

He said that over 401 Afghan families lived in Ichrian refugee camp, 1,609 in Khaki camp, and 627 in Barari and Sheikhabad camps.

Mr Shah revealed that the district police had taken around 50 Afghan nationals into custody for interrogation.

He said the Afghan families living in urban parts of Mansehra district didn’t fall in his organisation’s domain.

“Police issue residential permits to them [Afghans] to rent houses but currently, this service is closed,” he said.

Meanwhile, district administrator for the Chief Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees Aftabul Islam Shah met elders of refugees in camps and warned them against sheltering unregistered families.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2023

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