The Mediterranean Refugee Crisis was so sudden in 2015 that the global gaze almost forgot Afghan refugees who have fled their home country owing to the on-going war that has made life impossible in Afghanistan. However, neither the suddenness of that crisis nor the global lack of empathy shown to the Syrian refugees could dwarf the Afghan refugee crisis. The “Protracted Refugee Crisis,” is there to stay, as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi has described the decades-long stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
Pakistan is one of the few countries that have hosted one of the largest populations of refugees for the most prolonged period. Pakistan is still hosting 1.4 million registered refugees. Estimates are that undocumented ones are more than the ones recorded with National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA). Due to severe financial limitations, Pakistan is trying to ensure a safe and respectable return of Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan. However, repatriation has slowed down during the last two years because of the recently deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
Even though the Afghan refugees will be on the refuge for last four decades next years, it is ironic that so far there is limited information and coordination between humanitarian agencies, development actors and states to find a sustainable solution for the “Protracted Refugee Crisis”. The global community should consider the words of Mr Grandi who want the international society to help Afghans in getting “out of the bad period of insecurity, poverty and bringing back services”.
The call for assisting Afghan refugees naturally means allocating more resources and giving political attention to stabilising Afghanistan in the first place. At the same time, countries like Pakistan and Iran that are hosts to the highest numbers of Afghan people should be given more funds and resources to ensure the provision of better resources to Afghan people.
Pakistan while hosting more than three million refugees, documented as well as undocumented, is making an important contribution to the management of population movements in the region and beyond. However, with limited resources in hands, Islamabad is facing extreme financial hardships in providing Afghan people what is necessary for a dignified living. Now that the president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, has called on Afghan people living outside their homeland to come back for rebuilding Afghanistan, global powers should provide Pakistan with all possible assistance so that Afghan people do not see the voluntary repatriation process a cruel and inhumane practice.