ISLAMABAD: UN human rights chief Volker Turk has expressed alarm over reports about the arbitrary expulsion of Afghan nationals from Pakistan, accompanied by “abuse, including ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and detention, destruction of property and personal belongings and extortion”.

“These new developments are at variance with Pakistan’s decades-long tradition of hosting generously Afghan refugees in vast numbers,” Mr Turk said in a statement.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights renewed his appeal to the Pakistan government to suspend the Afghan return programme until individual assessment procedures and other safeguards required by international law are in place, and to investigate complaints of abuse by law-enforcement officers.

The UN Human Rights Office has received first-hand accounts from Afghans crossing the border who allege they were subjected to arbitrary treatment or abuse by Pakistan authorities, according to the statement.

“Arbitrary arrests and detentions are contrary to Pakistan’s obligations under international law,” he added.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR and IOM in a joint update on the issue of arrest and detention of Afghans covering the period of Sept15-Nov 11,

said the rate of arrest of Afghan nationals has significantly increased, with undocumented Afghans most severely affected.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2023

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