UN Refugee Agency in Afghanistan, on its social media platform X, on Friday said that the mass return of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, many of whom lack employment opportunities and adequate shelter, is poised to exacerbate Afghanistan’s already dire humanitarian crisis.
The organization adds this influx of returnees, just ahead of the harsh winter season, presents a grim outlook for the Afghan population, pacing further strain on limited resources and aid efforts.
“Returns of hundreds of thousands of Afghans from Pakistan, most without jobs or homes and just before winter, set to deepen Afghanistan’s already-severe humanitarian crisis,” UNHCR said.
Meanwhile, the organization said, “The mass arrivals couldn’t have happened at a worse time.”
The sudden surge in returnees from Pakistan, a country that has hosted Afghan refugees for decades, comes at a time when Afghanistan is grappling with severe challenges. The country faces a fragile economy, political instability, and a healthcare system overwhelmed by several challenges.
Urgent efforts are needed to address the immediate needs of these vulnerable populations and to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
In early October, Pakistan issued an order requiring all individuals residing in the country illegally to depart voluntarily or face a crackdown starting on November 1.
This directive had a significant impact, leading to the return of more than 300,000 Afghan refugees from Pakistan. The sudden exodus of these refugees has raised concerns about their well-being and the humanitarian challenges they may face upon their return to Afghanistan.
The mass return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan, occurring just before winter and amid Afghanistan’s existing humanitarian crisis, is a deeply troubling development. Immediate action is required to provide essential aid and shelter to these returnees, as well as to bolster international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and alleviate the suffering of its people.