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Refugees blame UNHCR, NGOs for their miseries

June 21, 2012

ISLAMABAD, June 21: Displaced persons (DPs) on Thursday shared their problems at the function held in connection with World Refugee Day and blamed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refuges (UNHCR) and NGOs for the miseries of 3.7 million Afghan, Bengali, Bihari, Burmi and other refugees.

The Function was held at the Islamabad Club in which Deputy Representative, UNHCR, Maya Ameratunga, Country Director PLAN International, Farah Naz, Chairman SHARP Liaqat Banori and others participated.

Shoulda Ingez, an Afghan woman, said she and her husband had backache and she managed to get her husband’s treatment but now she has no resources to undergo surgery on her backbone.

“Being refugees no one is ready to help us. We have been facing security problem but UNHCR and NGOs have turned a blind eye to our problems,” she said.

Sheraz Khan, another Afghan national, said he had been living in a camp near Mianwali but now the authorities concerned had instructed them to move.

Khuwaja Merajud Din, belonging to Northern Afghanistan, said that government had not renewed the visa of 1.7 million Afghan refugees due to which their problems are increasing and Proof of Registration (POR) issued by Nadra will expire at the end of this year but UNHCR had not taken up the issue with the Pakistani government.

UNHCR representative Maya Ameratunga was full of praise for the support Pakistan had been offering to millions of Afghan refuges for the last three decades. Out of 1.7 registered Afghan refugees, 50 percent were born in Pakistan, she said and added:

“It is unprecedented of Pakistan, particularly when it is facing several internal problems.”

“At the moment one out of every four refuges all over the world are from Afghanistan and most of them living in Pakistan.

Besides, refugees from Somalia, Iran and Iraq have also found their abode in Pakistan,” she said.

“UNHCR has been trying to resolve the issue of statelessness (those who can not go back to their countries). Recently the Pakistan government has canceled 12,000 CNICs (computerised national identity cards) issued to the refugees due to which problem will further increase,” she said.

She said that Pakistan had not acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention which said refugees could not be expelled from the country making them vulnerable to being forced them to leave the country. But the UNHCR was trying to ensure some standard operating procedure for their stay, he said.

Farah Naz of PLAN International said that Pakistan had been doing a lot for the welfare of the refugees but still there was a need of legislation to provide them some status.

Liaqat Banori of SHARP said that refuges should be involved in cultural and sports activities. He said he had been organising sports tournaments and festival for the Afghan nationals.

Shabir Ahmed Hamid, Refugee Attaché in Afghan embassy, said Kabul had been trying to adjust the DPs returning from Pakistan in different provinces.

The Afghan DP Merajud Din, while talking to Dawn, said that the government had not extended visa which had been expired on January 1, 2012 as a result of which their bank accounts had been seized, SIMs of mobile phones blocked and now they could not get foreign remittances through proper channel.

“UNHCR can not send back all 1.7 million refugees to Afghanistan at once, so their visas should be extended for another three years. Besides, POR issued by NADRA should be accepted in the country as we cannot use it for hiring a house,” he said.