ISLAMABAD- Pakistan is the largest refugee-hosting country in the world. It is currently hosting some 1.6 million registered refugees. According to data released by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on the World Refugees Day, Afghanistan remains the world’s leading home of refugees. Around 2.6 million Afghan refugees are currently living worldwide with the majority hosted by Pakistan.
Since March 2002, UNHCR has facilitated the return of 3.8 million registered Afghans from Pakistan under the world’s largest voluntary repatriation operation. The Government of Pakistan, with UNHCR assistance, has been issuing new refugee cards to more than 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees. These Proof of Registration cards are valid till the end of 2015.
Last year, Pakistan’s Cabinet decided to extend the temporary stay of Afghan refugees. The refugee card is important as it provides for Afghans to legally remain in Pakistan. In addition, it also protects against risks such as extortion, arbitrary arrest and detention as well as deportation under Pakistan’s Foreigner’s Act.
UNHCR will focus on improving registration; protection needs assessments and refugee status determination, together with increasing the resettlement options for those unable to repatriate or facing serious protection challenges.