The Refugee Council is calling on the Australian Government to urgently engage with the Pakistani Government to stop the forced return of Afghan refugees and to officiate their legal status.
On 1 November a crackdown order for all ‘undocumented’ Afghans, an estimated 1.7 million people, has put Afghan lives and livelihood at risk.
RCOA CEO Paul Power said this is a significant escalation in the structural violence faced by Afghan refugees who fled to Pakistan following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, many of whom have family and sponsors in Australia awaiting outcomes for their applications.
“We are hearing of Afghans are facing increased harassment by police, being detained illegally, their homes are being confiscated and demolished, their businesses are being dismantled, and they are being forced to cross the border to Afghanistan,” Mr Power said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that Pakistan’s expulsion of refugees risks triggering a “human rights catastrophe” and has expressed concern that those who are deported to Afghanistan, particularly women and girls, will face human rights violations including torture, discrimination, arbitrary arrest and detention, and lack of access to basic needs.
The Australian Government must also join the calls urging the Pakistani Government to abide by its fundamental non-refoulement and human rights obligations. The Refugee Council of Australia calls on the Australian Government to:
- Use diplomatic pressure to urge the Pakistani Government to stop the forced return of Afghan refugees; provide Afghan refugees with a means of regularising their legal status and accessing basic services without discrimination; and provide exit permits to people who have resettlement pathways but who are currently In Pakistan without legal status.
- Prioritise the processing of visas including on-hand Refugee and Humanitarian visas and Family visas to Afghan nationals who are in Pakistan, particularly for those whose Pakistani visas have expired.
We encourage the Government to continue its constructive engagement with members of the Afghan diaspora in Australia and welcome every opportunity to discuss the points raised in this letter.