The Afghan refugee community in Pakistan is facing a renewed crackdown by law enforcement agencies. The crackdown, which began after a cross-border attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is most intense in Karachi. Many Afghan refugees, even those with valid Proof of Registration (PoR) cards, are choosing to stay indoors due to the fear of arrest. Reports suggest that over 540 refugees without legal status were arrested in Karachi between September 9 and 13 under the country’s Foreigner’s Act. Community leaders have appealed to the government and the chief justice to stop the crackdown for humanitarian reasons. The government has yet to decide whether it will renew or extend the PoR cards. Furthermore, many of those arrested possess valid documents that have expired. The crackdown is not limited to Karachi but has also been taking place in Balochistan, Islamabad, and Peshawar. Human rights activists and lawyers have expressed concern over the arrests and are calling for the refugees to be provided access to legal counsel. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has raised the issue with the Pakistani government and called for the release of those arrested. Despite Pakistan’s efforts to curb new refugee arrivals, approximately 600,000 Afghan refugees have entered the country since August 2021. The UNHCR has issued advisories calling for a ban on forced returns to Afghanistan.
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