A team of UN experts has cautioned Pakistan against continuing the deportation of Afghan refugees, highlighting the severe human rights risks this poses to Afghan nationals.
The experts, in a statement, emphasised that Pakistan should not make groundless connections between Afghan refugees and terrorism threats. They pointed out that the current human rights violations and discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan mean that mass deportations could significantly harm migrant women and girls.
The statement underscored Pakistan's obligation to align its immigration policies with international laws. This includes adhering to the principle of "non-refoulement," which forbids returning individuals to a country where they may face serious threats to their life or freedom. Furthermore, it calls for Pakistan to ensure that refugees have access to asylum-seeking processes and necessary protection.
The experts expressed their concern over the absence of any measures in Pakistan to prevent the potential irreversible harm and dangers that Afghan nationals could face upon their return.
The statement also raised concerns about the heightened risk of trafficking that migrant women and girls may encounter during forced return and displacement. It noted the particular vulnerability of religious and ethnic minorities to persecution, especially in cases of forced returns.
Further risks highlighted include the potential for deported women and girls to face early and forced marriage, human trafficking, and deprivation of rights to education, work, freedom of movement, and legal protection in Afghanistan.
The UN experts also called on the international community to assist in hosting Afghan refugees. This includes increasing opportunities for resettlement and promoting rights-based family reunification processes.