MSF is deeply concerned over deportations of Afghans from Pakistan

An estimated 800,000 Afghans are vulnerable to being forcibly returned to the place they fled, facing poverty, inadequate health services, and restrictions on women.

A view of a street in Pashtunabad neighborhood, Pakistan.

Pakistan 2022 © Saiyna Bashir

In November 2023, Pakistan announced a national deportation operation of those deemed “illegal foreigners,” including Afghans who have spent the majority of their lives in Pakistan. Since November 2023, Pakistan has deported at least 500,000 people, and has announced it will expel Afghan Citizen Card holders after April 15.

NEW YORK, April 16, 2024 — In the wake of the recent announcement by Pakistani authorities that phase two of the repatriation plan of Afghans in the country would begin after April 15, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is deeply concerned for the rights and welfare of those impacted by the latest round of deportations. 

Pakistan is home to an estimated 3.7 million Afghans, and a reported 500,000 have been deported so far. Many Afghans living in Pakistan have been there for decades and have spent more time in the country than their country of origin, without any legal recourse to remain in the only place they call home.

For many Afghans, this repatriation means packing up their belongings and carrying them by horse, cart, car, or bus and traveling en masse to a country that is already struggling with widespread poverty, inadequate health services, and increased restrictions on women.

The second phase of the deportations leaves an estimated 800,000 Pakistan-issued Afghan Citizen Card holders vulnerable to return, and at risk of harm, while phase three is expected to result in the further deportation of UNHCR-issued proof of registration card holders.

About our work in Pakistan 

MSF first started working in Pakistan in 1986, and today provides much-needed medical care to people in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh provinces. Access to health care remains a challenge in Pakistan, especially for people in rural communities, informal settlements, and areas affected by conflict. MSF has projects providing reproductive neonatal, and pediatric care; diagnosis and treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis; diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C; and diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis in the country.