Mass Forced Returns from Pakistan to Afghanistan: A Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds

Mass Forced Returns from Pakistan to Afghanistan: A Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds

The current situation at the border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan has reached a critical point. Hundred of thousands of Afghans have been forcibly returned to Afghanistan in the past two months, overwhelming the already stretched resources of the region. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other humanitarian partners are stepping in to provide much-needed aid to these vulnerable individuals.

The number of border crossings has surged exponentially, from a mere 200 daily to a staggering 17,000, due to Pakistan’s “Illegal Foreigners’ Repatriation Plan.” This plan sets a November 1st deadline for the “voluntary return” of all undocumented Afghans in Pakistan to their country of origin. However, the reality is that most people have been forced to leave, leaving their belongings and savings behind.

Maria Moita, IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission, emphasizes the desperate situation faced by those arriving in Afghanistan. They are extremely vulnerable and require immediate support at the border and in the areas they return to. The magnitude of this humanitarian crisis demands urgent funding to ensure a safe and dignified return for these individuals.

To address the critical needs of the forcibly returned Afghans, the IOM-led border consortium is providing essential aid such as shelter, water, sanitation, healthcare, protection, nutrition services, and cash for basic needs like transportation and food. This comprehensive approach aims to alleviate their immediate hardships and facilitate a smoother transition.

One mother, Aliya, shares her harrowing experience of spending five nights with her daughters on the way to Kandahar. While they were taken care of at the border, the sheer number of people in need makes it incredibly difficult to cope with the situation. The establishment of larger reception centers has become necessary to accommodate the unprecedented daily influx of returning Afghans.

Considering the increasing magnitude of this crisis, the border consortium has launched an appeal for additional resources. The surge in arrivals and the vulnerability of those returning highlight the need for a revision of the appeal to meet the escalating demands.

The plight of Afghan women and girls is particularly arduous, and their needs will only intensify as winter approaches. As funding for the Afghan population diminishes, the international community must step up its support during this critical time.

Afghanistan, already burdened with decades of conflict, instability, and economic crises, now faces the challenge of absorbing a high number of returning families. Many of these families have not lived in the country for decades, if ever. With over six million internally displaced people already in Afghanistan, the future for those returning from Pakistan is uncertain and fragile.

Afghanistan ranks as the third country with the highest number of internally displaced people worldwide. A recent report by IOM and Georgetown University underscores the importance of suitable housing for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in ensuring their economic independence and reducing their reliance on humanitarian assistance.

The IOM expresses its gratitude to the consortium partners and donors who have mobilized to provide immediate assistance in response to this overwhelming crisis. Together, they call on all countries to suspend immediately the forcible returns of Afghan nationals, both in the short and long term.

For more information, please contact:
In Geneva: Itayi Viriri, [email protected], +41 79 554 04 43
In Kabul: Léo Torréton, [email protected], +93 79 320 6074


Q: What is the cause of the mass forced returns from Pakistan to Afghanistan?
A: The mass forced returns are a result of Pakistan’s “Illegal Foreigners’ Repatriation Plan,” which sets a deadline for the voluntary return of undocumented Afghans.

Q: What aid is being provided to the forcibly returned Afghans?
A: The IOM-led border consortium is providing critical aid such as shelter, water, sanitation, healthcare, protection, nutrition services, and cash for basic needs.

Q: Why is the international community’s support crucial during this crisis?
A: Funding for the Afghan population is rapidly declining, while the needs of the returning Afghans are increasing. The international community’s support is essential to address this critical situation.

Q: How does the situation impact women and girls in Afghanistan?
A: The situation for women and girls in Afghanistan is exceptionally difficult, and their needs are likely to increase as winter approaches. Additional support is necessary to alleviate their hardships.

Q: What challenges does Afghanistan face in absorbing the returning families?
A: Afghanistan already struggles with conflict, instability, and economic crises. Absorbing a high number of returning families, many of whom have not lived in the country for decades, presents further challenges.

Q: What is the significance of suitable housing for internally displaced people (IDPs)?
A: Suitable housing for IDPs is crucial to ensure their economic independence and reduce their dependence on humanitarian assistance.

International Organization for Migration (IOM)