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UN agencies urge Pakistan to revise repatriation plan

The United Nations refugee agency and the UN migration agency on Saturday urged Pakistan to continue its protection of all vulnerable Afghans who have sought safety in the country and could be at imminent risk if forced to return.

In a joint statement issued from Bangkok, the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned that such plans would have serious implications for all who have been forced to leave the country and may face serious protection risks upon return.

The UN agencies’ statement came after Pakistan announced plans to repatriate undocumented foreigners living in the South Asian country.

Islamabad has set Nov.1 as the deadline for all undocumented migrants, mainly Afghans, to voluntarily leave the country, warning of arrests and deportations after that date.

The UN agencies said they acknowledged Pakistan’s sovereign prerogative over domestic policies and offered their support in developing a comprehensive and sustainable mechanism to register and manage Afghan nationals, including those who may be in need of international protection.

On Friday, Pakistani authorities at the Torkham border announced that hundreds of Afghans, including women and children, crossed the border and returned to their home country.

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