KABUL – Over 600,000 Afghan have arrived in Pakistan in the two years since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in 2021.
According to official Pakistani government estimates, 600,000 Afghans seeking asylum have arrived in the country since the Taliban returned to power, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Qaiser Khan Afridi told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
“In addition to the new arrival, Pakistan hosts 1.3 million Afghan refugees who are holding the Proof of Registration Cards issued by the government,” Afridi said.
However, over the last two years, over 16,000 Afghans have returned to Afghanistan through the UNHCR-facilitated voluntary repatriation program, he added.
In response to a question about Afghan refugees who are legally living in the country and whose refugee registration cards expired in June of this year, he stated that they are in contact with local authorities to extend them.
In 2017, the Pakistan government issued a one-time Afghanistan Citizen Card (ACC) to approximately 880,000 refugees which expired this year.
“UNHCR is in talks with Pakistani authorities about extending the registration cards of Afghan refugees,” Afridi said, adding that they are hopeful for a positive outcome on this issue.
According to Afridi, a positive decision from Pakistani authorities will provide relief to Afghan refugees, who are experiencing uncertainty and anxiety due to the expiration of their cards.
Prior to August 20, 2021, Pakistani authorities estimated that 500,000 to 600,000 Afghans lived in the country.