Pakisan gives more time to refugees from Afghanistan
September 09 2016 10:49 PM
Afghan internally-displaced women wash clothes outside their temporary house on the outskirts of Herat yesterday.


Pakistan yesterday extended the deadline for the return of registered Afghan refugees by another three months amidst concerns about the initial December 31 cut-off date for voluntary repatriation.
The decision was taken in a meeting of cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad.
The cabinet approved an extension of the deadline until March 31, 2017.
“Afghans are our brothers and very dear to us. Adequate and concrete steps will be ensured for the facilitation of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan,” Sharif said in the meeting.
About 1.5mn registered and an equal number of unregistered refugees are living in Pakistan.
Pakistan has been co-ordinating with the UN refugee agency UNHCR, according to officials.
The pace of the return has picked up in recent months as more than 100,000 refugees have been repatriated since July under UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation programme, according to UNHCR spokesman Qaisar Khan Afridi.
The spike in the numbers of refugees returning to Afghanistan is straining UN resources.
Stephen O’Brien, the head of the UN humanitarian branch OCHA, issued a flash appeal in Kabul on Wednesday for more money to deal with the needs of about 620,000 refugees expected to return from 
Pakistan by end of the year. 
Pakistan extended a previous deadline ending on June 31 for six months before it expired.
The refugees first came to Pakistan in 1980 during the Afghan war.

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