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Refugee status not for unregistered Afghans

October 20, 2006

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 19: The government has decided that the status of refugee will not be given to Afghans who do not register under the repatriation process it jointly started with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees on Oct 10.

“Those Afghans who do not register themselves with the National Database Registration Authority by Dec 31 would not be considered refugees and the government would take action against them under the Foreign Act,” Minister for State and Frontier Regions Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind at a press briefing here on Thursday.

He urged Afghans to register themselves with the authority so that their status could be determined as refugees.

Nadra chairman Saleem Moeen said over 4,000 Afghans had been registered with the authority and they had been given Proof of Registration cards.

According to the government’s analysis, over three million Afghans refugees had been living in Pakistan since 1980 and following a joint repatriation initiative by the UNHCR and the government earlier this year, the number of Afghans now in the country is stated to be about 2.4 million.

The Nadra chief said Proof of Registration cards would be valid for three years and after repatriation of card holders, they would become invalid.

Nadra is not charging any fee for the registration exercise.

About registration of children, Mr Moeen said children under five years of age would be listed on cards of their mothers.

He said Proof of Registration cards included the date of arrival in Pakistan, area of origin, ethnic background, obstacles to return to Afghanistan and profile in Pakistan.

Earlier, Mr Rind said voluntary repatriation process of Afghan refugees would be completed in three years. He said the process of registration would be completed by December this year.