The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged the Pakistani government to stop forcibly returning Afghan nationals to avoid a human rights catastrophe. The UN calls for the Pakistani government to protect those in need and ensure that future returns are safe, dignified, and voluntary, in accordance with international law. The UN expresses concern that many individuals facing deportation will be at risk of human rights violations in Afghanistan, such as arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and inhumane treatment. Pakistan’s plan to deport undocumented foreign nationals, particularly over 1.4 million undocumented Afghans, alarms the UN. The UN highlights that civil society activists, journalists, human rights defenders, former government officials, and women and girls are especially at risk under the current policies in Afghanistan. The UNHCR and IOM have documented a significant increase in returns to Afghanistan since the deportation deadline was announced, with 59,780 Afghans leaving Pakistan in the month leading up to October 15. The fear of arrest is cited as the main reason for leaving Pakistan. The UN emphasizes that deportations without considering individual circumstances would violate international human rights and refugee laws. Winter deportations would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, worsened by recent earthquakes in Herat province. Close to 30 million people in Afghanistan currently require relief assistance, with 3.3 million internally displaced. The UN reminds the de facto authorities in Afghanistan of their obligations to protect and fulfill human rights.
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