1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Pakistan steps up clampdown on Afghan migrants

July 11, 2024

Islamabad said tens of thousands of Afghan migrants approved for relocation to Western nations have yet to leave. The country has in the past year started deporting Afghans back home.

Burqa-clad Afghan women walk on a street in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024.
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled to neighboring Pakistan since the Taliban 2021 takeoverImage: Fareed Khan/AP Photo/picture alliance

Pakistan intends to expel more Afghan migrants residing in the country illegally, Islamabad announced on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of Afghans remain stranded in Pakistan despite having been approved for relocation to other countries.

Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign office, told reporters that the upcoming deportations would be the "second phase" of the "Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan." It would target "Afghan citizen card" holders whose documents are valid for a limited time.

Since the deportations started last year, an estimated 600,000 Afghans have gone back to Afghanistan.

What do we know about the Afghans leaving Pakistan?

Many Afghan citizens have lived in Pakistan for decades, having fled the neighboring country amid years of conflict.

Since the Taliban took over in 2021, approximately 600,000 Afghans have fled to Pakistan. Islamabad increased the deportation of Afghan citizens due to deteriorating relations with Kabul over security concerns.

Pakistan-Afghanistan border tensions uproot family

They are hoping to the be relocated to Western countries, with Baloch putting the number at at least 44,000 Afghans who have been approved for relocation abroad.

The majority, 25,000, were approved for relocation to the US, followed by 9,000 to Australia, 6,000 to Canada, 3,000 to Germany, and over 1,000 to Britain.

"We have urged these countries to expedite the approval and visa issuance process for these individuals so that they can be relocated as soon as possible," Baloch said.

Over 120,000 people were airlifted from Kabul in the days following the collapse of the NATO-backed government in August 2021. Most of them were Afghans, and hundreds of thousands more have since fled.

Many were promised relocation by the countries involved in Afghanistan's 20-year occupation. However, with most diplomatic missions in Kabul closed since the Taliban takeover, many migrants stopped in Pakistan, where the Islamabad embassies processed their cases.

Deported Afghans cross Pakistan border confused and angry

rmt/lo (AFP, AP)