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Pakistan to mark 4 decades of hosting Afghan refugees

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KABUL: Pakistani government in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will host an “international conference” to mark “40 years of Afghan Refugees Presence in Pakistan: A New Partnership for Solidarity”, on 17-18 February, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement on Sunday.

The two-day conference will be held in Islamabad, the statement said, adding that it will be inaugurated by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, ministers, and senior officials from around 20 countries will attend the event, the statement said.

In Pakistan, Afghans can be categorized as Proof-of-Registration (PoR) Card holders and therefore refugees, visa holders or ‘undocumented’, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 

Among those who are ‘undocumented’, there are Afghan-Citizenship-Card holders (ACC), those who registered for ACC but haven’t yet been issued with their cards, and those who hold no documentation from the Government of Pakistan at all.

IOM figures show that currently, Pakistan hosts 1.3 million registered Afghan refugees (PoR-Card holders) and 1.1 million undocumented Afghans – those who either hold or have registered for ACCs or are truly undocumented.

Among those considered ‘undocumented’, 549,000 Afghans hold an ACC, a further 333,000 have registered for an ACC and are in possession of tokens, and another 300-400,000 Afghans hold no legal documentation from the Government of Pakistan at all as of 04 July 2019, according to IOM.

IOM information on its website shows that ACC will expire on 23 March 2020 with a possible extension currently under discussion.

Also, IOM figures show that 679 Afghans returned from Pakistan in total in January while 665 of them returned spontaneously, 14 were deported.

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