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Afghan refugee status in Pakistan will continue beyond December 31, UNHCR says
By Ashfaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) November 8 said that, regardless of Pakistani policy, under the international law, it would continue to recognise Afghans staying in Pakistan beyond December 31 as refugees, media reported.
“The Pakistani government must decide what status it offers to 1.6m Afghan refugees from January 1, 2013 onward,” UNHCR country head Neill Wright said at a voluntary return centre in Chamkani, Dawn reported. “But under the international law, the UN will recognise them as refugees.”
“I am very much hopeful that Pakistan will have a national policy by December 31, so Afghan refugees are not left with any doubt about their status under the international law,” Wright said.
The Pakistani federal government has yet to decide about whether to give a further extension to Proof of Registration card holders, Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Engineer Shaukat Ullah said.
The government issued registration cards to 1.7m Afghans in 2009 to legalise their stay until the end of 2012.