Pakistan extends two million Afghan refugees repatriation deadline

ID :
Thu, 08/28/2008 - 23:10

Pakistan extends two million Afghan refugees repatriation deadline

Islamabad, Aug 28 PPI: United Nations says Pakistan has agreed to extend deadline for the repatriation of two million Afghan refugees.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, on Thursday told BBC there was
now a consensus that deadline of 2009 was "unrealistic".

Given poor economic and security situation in Afghanistan, three to five years
seemed more practical, he said.

Guterres also told BBC that UN was set to launch an internationa appeal for up to
300,000 Pakistanis displaced by an ongoing military campaign against the Taleban.

Pakistan, the UN and Afghanistan had a plan to repatriate 2.4 million Afghan
refugees by end of 2009 on condition that the process
was voluntary.

But Guterres said UN had agreed with Pakistani government on the principles of a new
strategy which would avoid a hard deadline and instead plan for a more general
repatriation period.

"I think that three to five years is a good horizon to establish planning figures
for our work and that is what we will now have to
see in detail with Pakistan government," he said.

During this time UN would increase efforts to improve living conditions in
Afghanistan and undertake projects in Pakistan to ease
burden of hosting refugees, he said.

Guterres also said UN planned to launch international appeal next week for hundreds
of thousands of Pakistanis displaced by fighting near Afghan border.

"It is indeed a humanitarian crisis if you have such levels of displacement in an
area with instability, with insecurity, it is
very difficult to fully respond to this challenge," he said.