Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Flow of Afghans crossing into Pakistan, Iran remains ‘small’: UNHCR

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Unsplash/Joel Heard. A woman walks in Badakhshan, a province located in north-eastern Afghanistan.

Afghans have not been fleeing in large numbers across the borders to Pakistan and Iran in recent days, but some have crossed over indicating they intend to claim asylum, the UN refugee agency has said.

Babar Baloch, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), speaking from Islamabad, said that the numbers leaving Afghanistan “remain small”, but gave no figures.

“So far what we have not seen is a large refugee influx,” Baloch told a Geneva news briefing.

The explanation for this is unclear: “It could be that some of those people may not think they have the right documents, others may not be so comfortable in terms of confronting armed guards at the borders,” he said.

“Afghans are still able to come through Pakistan,” he explained, “but it is very regulated,” and you must show documents such as your ID card, passport, or visa.  

Baloch’s appeal follows the UNHCR’s repeated call on Tuesday for Afghanistan’s neighboring States to keep their borders open to those fleeing.  

Up to 500,000 Afghans could flee their homeland by year-end, the UNHCR said last week.

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