Afghan refugees

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Afghan refugees
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Afghan refugees are nationals of Afghanistan who left their country as a result of major wars or persecution. The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan marks the first wave of internal displacement and refugee flow from Afghanistan to neighboring Pakistan and Iran that began providing shelter to Afghan refugees. When the Soviet war ended in 1989, these refugees started to return to their homeland. In April 1992, a major civil war began after the mujahideen took over control of Kabul and the other major cities. Afghans again fled to neighboring countries.A total of 6.3 million Afghan refugees were hosted in Pakistan and Iran by 1990.Wickramasekara, P., Sehgal, J., Mehran, F., Noroozi, L., Eisazadeh (2006). Afghan Households in Iran: Profile and Impact. UNHCR-ILO Cooperation.weblink As of 2013, Afghanistan was the largest refugee-producing country in the world, a title held for 32 years. Afghans are currently the second largest refugee group after Syrian refugees.WEB,weblink Return of Afghan Refugees to Afghanistan Surges as Country Copes to Rebuild,, en, 2017-02-21, The majority of Afghan refugees (95%) are located in Iran and Pakistan.{{harvnb|BBC News|2013|p=}} Some countries that were part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) took in small number of Afghans that worked with their respective forces.{{harvnb|Stainburn|2013|p=}} Ethnic minorities, like Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, often fled to India.{{harvnb|Bose|2006|p=}}

Internally displaced Afghans

There are over one million internally displaced people in Afghanistan. The majority of the IDPs in Afghanistan are as a direct and indirect result of conflict and violence, although there are also reasons of natural disasters. The Soviet invasion caused approximately 2 million Afghans to be internally displaced, mostly from rural areas into urban areas.WEB,weblink Sources of Tension in Afghanistan and Pakistan: A Regional Perspective: "GOING, GOING ... ONCE AGAIN GONE?" THE HUMAN CAPITAL OUTFLOW FROM AFGHANISTAN POST 2014 ELECTIONS, Schmeidl, Susanne, 2014, CIDOB Policy Research Project, The Afghan Civil War (1992–96) caused a new wave of internal displacement, with many Afghans moving to northern cities in order to get away from the Taliban ruled areas. Afghanistan continues to suffer from insecurity and conflict, which has led to an increase in internal displacement.WEB,weblink MIGRATION FLOWS FROM AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN TOWARDS EUROPE: UNDERSTANDING DATA-GAPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS. DESK REVIEW REPORT, August 2016, International Organization for Migration,

Host countries

According to the UNHCR, there are approximately 2.6 million registered refugees in 70 countries around the world, with the majority (95 per cent) being hosted by two countries, the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan.NEWS,weblink High-Level Segment of the 66th session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme on the Afghan refugee situation, Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for, UNHCR, 2017-04-03, en, About three in four Afghans have gone through internal, external or multiple displacement in their lives.WEB,weblink Sources of Tension in Afghanistan and Pakistan: A Regional Perspective: "GOING, GOING ... ONCE AGAIN GONE?" THE HUMAN CAPITAL OUTFLOW FROM AFGHANISTAN POST 2014 ELECTIONS, Schmeidl, Susanne, 2014, CIDOB Policy Research Project,


Pakistan has been home to over a million refugees for 40 years.NEWS,weblink Pakistan Coercion, UN Complicity, 2017-02-13, 2017-02-21, en, Human Rights Watch, 1.5 million officially registered Afghan refugees were reported to be living in Pakistan in addition to approximately 1 million more unregistered refugees.{{harvnb|Nordland|2013|p=}}{{harvnb|United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees|2013|p=}} Recently however, due to security concerns as well as increasing political tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, there has been an influx of refugees returning to Afghanistan. Pakistan initially allowed Afghan refugees legal refugee status until December 31 of 2016, after which they would be required to leave or be deported, however in September the deadline of their return was extended until March 31, 2017.On December 16, 2014, there was a terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar by the Pakistani Taliban group Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP),WEB,weblink Taliban school attack: 145 killed in Pakistan siege -, CNN, By Sophia Saifi and Greg Botelho, CNN, 2017-02-10, the leaders of which are based in Afghanistan NEWS,weblink In a Shift, Pakistan Pats Afghanistan on the Back, Masood, Salman, 2015-02-12, 2017-02-10, 0362-4331, The New York Times, WEB,weblink Afghan-Pakistani Cross-Border Terrorism Cuts Both Ways, Diplomat, Franz J. Marty, The, The Diplomat, en-US, 2019-09-14, in areas outside of Kabul control according to senior Pakistani officials.WEB,weblink Pakistan blames Afghanistan for the attack on Peshawar air force base {{!, News {{!}} DW.COM {{!}} 18.09.2015|last=(|first=Deutsche Welle|website=DW.COM|language=en|access-date=2017-02-10}}NEWS,weblink Afghan Refugees Forced to Return to a Home Many Have Never Known, Refugees Deeply, 2017-03-03, en, The attack killed at least 145 people, most of them school children.WEB,weblink Taliban school attack: 145 killed in Pakistan siege -, CNN, By Sophia Saifi and Greg Botelho, CNN, 2017-02-10, Following the attack, the Pakistani government adopted the National Action Plan (NAP) to tackle terrorism and one of the 20 points of this action plan was to establish a comprehensive policy to register Afghan refugees.WEB,weblink NACTA,, 2017-03-03,weblink" title="">weblink 2017-04-29, dead, Since 2015, there have been reports of Afghan refugees in Pakistan encountering serious harassment, hostility, and pressure to return to Afghanistan.NEWS,weblink Pakistan: Stop Forced Returns of Afghans, February 21, 2015, Human Rights Watch, NEWS,weblink Police Harassment Drives Afghan Refugees Out of Pakistan, Refugees Deeply, 2017-03-03, en, There has been an ongoing exodus of tens of thousands of refugees as of February 2015.NEWS,weblink Refugees Are Pushed to Exits in Pakistan, February 23, 2015, The New York Times, they all say they have been beaten and slapped and told nobody in Pakistan wants them anymore, Joseph Goldstein, February 24, 2015, According to the Human Rights Watch, in 2016 there were about 365,000 documented and 200,000 undocumented Afghan refugees repatriated from Pakistan.NEWS,weblink Afghan exodus from Pakistan could be 'catastrophic' without urgent aid, Green, Matthew, 2016-10-04, 2017-02-10, en-GB, 0261-3077, The Guardian, The mass exodus has been described as voluntary repatriation by the Pakistan government as well as UNHCR, however in a recent report the Human Rights Watch described it as unlawful coercion of Afghan refugees and voluntariness of return has been questioned.


According to The World Factbook, in 2015 there were about 1 million registered and between 1.5 and 2.0 million undocumented refugees in Iran.WEB,weblink Refugees and internally displaced persons, 2015, The majority of these refugees were born in Iran during the last three and a half decades, however they are still considered citizens of Afghanistan. In 2016, there was a decrease of spontaneous returns from Iran by 21 per cent (316,430 in 2015 to 248,764 in 2016) and a decrease of deportations by 14 per cent (from 227,601 to 194,763) compared to 2015 figures. Iran's initial response towards Afghan refugees, driven by religious solidarity, was an open door policy where Afghans in Iran had freedom of movement to travel or work in any city in addition to subsidies for gas, food and health coverage (Koepke, 2011),.JOURNAL, Farzin, Farshid, 2013, Freedom of movement of Afghan refugees in Iran, Forced Migration Review, 1: 44, 85–86, Advanced Placement Source, KOEPKE, B. 2011. The situation of Afghans in the Islamic Republic of Iran nine years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Middle East Institute. Starting in the early 2000s when the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) of Iran started registration of all foreigners, including refugee, and issued temporary residence cards.WEB,weblink Second-generation Afghans in Iran: Integration, Identity and Return, April 2008, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, In 2000, the Iranian government also initiated a joint repatriation program with the UNHCR. Since the 2000s, there have been laws passed in order to encourage the repatriation of Afghan refugees, such as limits on employment, areas of residence, and access to services including education.Farzin, Farshid, and Safinaz Jadali. 2013. "Freedom of movement of Afghan refugees in Iran." Forced Migration Review 1, no. 44: 85.Afghans in Iran

Returning to Afghanistan since 2002

File:Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan in 2004.jpg|thumb|Afghan citizens returning from PakistanPakistanAfter the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001, over 5 million Afghans were repatriated through the UNHCR from Pakistan and Iran to Afghanistan.Why are Afghan refugees leaving Iran? (al-Jazeera May 17, 2016).WEB, Iran: Afghan Refugees and Migrants Face Abuse,weblink Human Rights Watch, May 15, 2015, Voluntary Repatriation Update {{Webarchive|url= |date=2017-02-20 }} (UNHCR Nov. 2016)WEB,weblink UNHCR Pakistan, 31 March 2017, Hundreds of thousands of Afghans began returning to Afghanistan in recent years.Facing problems in Pakistan, Afghans return home in droves (PBS NewsHour March 10, 2017) According to the United Nations, by the end of 2016 about 600,000 documented and undocumented Afghans were repatriated from Pakistan.NEWS,weblink Afghan exodus from Pakistan could be 'catastrophic' without urgent aid, Green, Matthew, 2016-10-04, The Guardian, 2017-02-10, en-GB, 0261-3077, According to the IOM, the return of undocumented Afghan refugees from Pakistan in 2016 were more than twice the number of 2015, increased by 108 per cent from 2015 (around 248,054 versus 119,279).WEB,weblink Return of Undocumented Afghans from Pakistan and Iran: 2016 Overview., International Organization for Migration (IOM), The remaining registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan numbers around 1.3 million.UNHCR welcomes new government policy for Afghans in Pakistan (UNHCR Feb. 7, 2017) In the same year, UNHCR reported that 951,142 Afghans were living in Iran.Iran Factsheet (UNHCR Feb. 2016) Most of them were born and raised in Pakistan and Iran in the last three and a half decades but are still considered citizens of Afghanistan.NEWS,weblink Independence Day: We are Pakistanis now, say Afghans, Sohail Khattak, The Express Tribune, August 15, 2011, March 23, 2012, NEWS,weblink PAKISTAN: Tolerance wanes as perceptions of Afghan refugees change, February 27, 2012, Irin, February 28, 2012,

International aid

On March 17, 2003, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement, as an effort to facilitate voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan.NEWS,weblink Afghanistan tripartite agreement with Pakistan, Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for, UNHCR, 2017-04-03, en, Additionally in 2012, the International Conference on the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees to Support Voluntary Repatriation, Sustainable Reintegration and Assistance to Host Countries (SSAR) kicked off the quadripartite initiative with the Islamic Republics of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan and UNHCR to facilitate voluntary repatriation, sustainable reintegration, and the provision of aid to host countries.NEWS,weblink Afghan Solutions Strategy, Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for, UNHCR, 2017-04-03, en, In 2015, the high level segment of the UNHCR's 66th Executive Committee meeting concentrated on Afghan refugees. This was an effort to bring international attention and promote sustainable solutions for the Afghan refugee situation.Due to the ongoing conflict, insecurity, unemployment, and poverty in Afghanistan, the Afghan government has had difficulty coping with its internally displaced population in addition to the influx of returnees in a short period of time. In order to meet the needs of returning refugees, within its 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan, the UN has appealed the international community for $240 million in humanitarian assistance.


As shown in the table below, the refugees fled Afghanistan in four main waves: {{Clear}}{| class="wikitable sortable" bgcolor="#ececec"! {{nobr|Country/Region}} ! Soviet–Afghan War (1979–89)! Civil War (1992–96)! Taliban Rule (1996–2001)! colspan="2"| War in Afghanistan (2001–present) – {{abbr|Present|Check annotation for date}}
Pakistan}} Pakistan}}|2013|group="A"}}
United Arab Emirates}} UAE|| Shahbandarip=}} {{#tag:refgroup="A"}}
Germany}} Germany|| Haug20092009 Census|group="A"}}
United Kingdom}} United Kingdom|| Jonesp=2}} {{#tag:refgroup="A"}}
The Netherlands}} the Netherlands||FIRST=JURGENDATE=15 MAY 2015ACCESSDATE=31 MARCH 2017,
Sweden}} Sweden|| Government of Afghanistanp=}} {{#tag:refgroup="A"}}
Austria}} Austria||FIRST=STATISTIKPUBLISHER=, 31 March 2017,
Denmark}} Denmark||15,854Denmark Bureau of Statisticsp=}} {{#tag:refgroup="A"}}
India}} India||Associated Pressp=}} {{#tag:refgroup="A"}}
Tajikistan}} Tajikistan1,161 {{harvnb2006|p=}}15,336 2003 news report|group="A"}}
Turkey}} Turkey United Nations High Commissioner for Refugeesp=393}} {{#tag:refgroup="A"}}

See also


  • WEB, harv, Government of Afghanistan, 2007,weblink Embassy of Afghanistan in Sweden, Politics of Afghanistan, Government of Afghanistan, November 7, 2013,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-12-03, dead,
  • WEB, harv, Associated Press, Associated Press, July 24, 2013,weblink Tough times follow Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban to Delhi, The Indian Express, November 7, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006,weblink 20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics, November 7, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, Bose, Nayana, March 10, 2006,weblink Afghan refugees in India become Indian, at last, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, November 7, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, BBC News, BBC News, June 19, 2013,weblink More than seven million refugees displaced in 2012 - UN, BBC News, November 5, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, Carberry, Sean, May 7, 2013,weblink Afghan-Pakistani Forces Exchange Fire Along Shared Border, NPR, November 8, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, Erlich, Aaron, July 2006,weblink Tajikistan: From Refugee Sender to Labor Exporter, Migration Policy Institute, November 7, 2013,
  • BOOK, harv, Haug, Dr. habil. Sonja, Müssig, Stephanie M.A. & Dr. Anja Stichs, Bundesamt für Flüchtlinge und Migration : Muslimisches Leben in Deutschland, 2009, 2009, German,
  • WEB, harv, Iqbal, Mohamed, July 7, 2012,weblink Kabul looks to Qatar support at aid meet, The Peninsula (newspaper), The Peninsula, November 7, 2013, dead,weblink" title="">weblink August 24, 2012,
  • WEB, harv, Jones, Sophie, July 2010,weblink Afghans in the UK, Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees, November 6, 2013, dead,weblink" title="">weblink November 16, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society, 2013,weblink Afghan Migration after the Soviet Invasion, National Geographic Society, November 8, 2013,weblink" title="">weblink December 3, 2013, dead, mdy-all,
  • WEB, harv, Nordland, Rod, November 20, 2013,weblink Afghan Migrants in Iran Face Painful Contradictions but Keep Coming, The New York Times, November 22, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, Shahbandari, Shafaat, November 30, 2012,weblink Afghans take hope from UAE’s achievements, Gulf News, November 5, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, Stainburn, Samantha, May 22, 2013,weblink UK, Denmark to give Afghan interpreters visas, GlobalPost, November 5, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, Statistics Canada, Statistics Canada, 2006,weblink Immigrant population by place of birth and period of immigration (2006 Census), Statistics Canada, November 7, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2005,weblink UNHCR Global Report 2005: Turkey, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, November 7, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Iran, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2013,weblink 2013 UNHCR country operations profile - Islamic Republic of Iran, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, November 6, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, February 12, 1999,weblink Afghanistan 10 years after Soviet pull-out, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, November 5, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2013,weblink 2013 UNHCR country operations profile - Pakistan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, November 5, 2013,
  • WEB, harv, United States Census Bureau, United States Census Bureau, 2013,weblink 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, United States Census Bureau, November 5, 2013,

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