Kabul, Nov 1 (EFE).- Hundreds of families were forced to spend the night outdoors, with their belongings, due to the lack of shelters in Afghanistan, a country unable to cope with the massive influx of Afghan refugees coming in from Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Oct. 3 ultimatum to undocumented foreigners, including 1.7 million Afghans, to leave the country and avoid being forcibly expelled, came to an end at midnight.
The main border between the two countries, the Torkham Pass, has been overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of people waiting to cross to avoid being forcibly deported.
Once they arrive on Afghan soil, they find collapsed shelters with no facilities to start a new life in their own country, despite promises from the interim Taliban government that they would build temporary shelters.
“Most of us have not received tents, food or water, and we stay on the streets or public areas without any shelter,” Haji Afzal Khan, 70, told EFE after returning to Afghanistan.
The chaos on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border forced authorities on Tuesday to extend the deadline to leave Pakistan by another day.
From Thursday, any undocumented migrant in the country will be transferred to detention centers and then sent back to their home nation.
But many Afghan refugees will be left in Pakistan after the deadline due to severe restrictions imposed by the Taliban on women, who are prohibited from making long journeys without the company of a male family member.
Kabul Khan, a 25-year-old man who crossed Torkham on Tuesday, told EFE that his neighbors in the Pakistani city of Peshawar have been forced to stay back because of this situation.
“The man in the family is in jail in Pakistan, so they can’t travel alone or abandon him in jail,” Khan said.
The two countries share a porous border that stretches around 2,600 kilometers. Pakistan acknowledges the presence of 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees.
However, like other states in South Asia, Pakistan is not a party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and lacks specific legislation in this regard.
According to UN data, at least 59,780 people have returned to Afghanistan as of Oct. 15. However, official sources quoted by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn pegs the number at 104,085 since September. EFE