ISLAMABAD – There are as many as 1.649 million registered Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan at the end of the year 2012 and out of these 0.608 million refugees are living in camps, reveals the latest data released by Ministry of States and Frontier Regions to share with the National Assembly here on Friday.
Furthermore, 1.041 million Afghan refugees live outside the camps. Minister for States and Frontier Region, Engineer Shaukat Ullah, shared this information with the Lower House of the Parliament in his written reply in response to a question posed by MNA Tahir Aurangzeb.
However, these figures are conflicting with UNHCR’s as, according to the official website of the UN Refugee Agency, there are 1.579 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan at the end of this year.
According to the data of the ministry, 1008,928 Afghan refugees reside in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and out of these 505,479 live in camps and 503,449 live outside the camps, followed by Balochistan where 334,327 Afghan refugees reside out of which 85,478 refugees reside in camps. So, in Pakistan, the provinces of KPK and Balochistan have the highest number of Afghan refugees respectively.
Similarly, 181,803 Afghan refugees reside in Punjab out of which 14,879 reside in camps; followed by 68,326 in Sindh; 34,295 in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Islamabad; 15,133 in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) out of which 23,66 reside in camps; 6,570 in Azad Jammu & Kashmir and 16 in northern areas of the country. Interestingly, no Afghan refugee lives in camps in Sindh, FCT, Northern Areas and AJK.
The minister informed the House that the repatriation of registered Afghan refugees is guided by the ‘Tripartite Agreement’ between governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the UNHCR under the “Management and Repatriation Strategy for Afghan Refugees living in Pakistan for the year 2010-2012”.
The agreement was approved by the cabinet on March 24, 2010 and is valid up to December 31, 2012.
The House was informed that according to the Tripartite Agreement and the present policy, the repatriation of registered Afghan refugees is on ‘voluntary’ basis till December 31, 2012. The policy for repatriation of all these refugees beyond 2012 is under review through inter-ministerial/stakeholders consultations; the implementation of which will be subject to approval of the cabinet.