NWFP to ease border crossing by Afghan DPs
PESHAWAR, Jan 28: The government of NWFP has decided to ease restrictions on border crossing of Afghan DPs into Afghanistan who would ensure their permanent repatriation.
However, restrictions will remain in force for those involved in smuggling, and deportation of illegal entrants would continue, officials said.
More then 500 Afghans have been deported through Torkham border in the last four days. Sixty were held on Saturday.
An official confided to Dawn on Sunday that the drive to check documents of Afghan refugees in the urban areas of the province was to restrict their movement to their camps.
A decrease in the movement of Afghan refugees across the borders has been witnessed at Torkham since the provincial home department's decision on January 19.
While the new system allows entry and exit only of those Afghan DPs who posses permits clearly stating the date of their departure and return. This has created difficulties for a large number of Afghan youth who undertake short business trips.
Provincial home secretary Syed Mazhar Ali Shah agreed with reports that the movement of what he termed as illegal and unnecessary peddlers across the borders had been effectively checked by the new system.
He strongly contradicted reports appearing in a section of the press about the influx of thousands (25,000 reported by one paper) of new Afghan refugees.
In the meantime the biggest challenge for the Afghan Refugees Commissionerate and the UNHCR officials is that of shifting of over 50,000 newly-arrived Afghans living in makeshift camps at Jalozai tentage village with 1,28,000 people.
The home secretary told Dawn that a large number of unregistered Afghan refugees had joined new arrivals at Jalozai camp in the hope of getting relief from the UNHCR and other agencies which had made the task of verification difficult.
The verification process by the UNHCR can now take a couple of weeks said an official of Afghan Refugees commissionerate.
The registration of fresh Afghan refugees was stopped in 1995. More then half-a-million living at various places in the province do not claim any assistance from the UNHCR or Afghan refugees commissionerate.
The fresh Afghan DPs are likely to be shifted to Shamshatoo camp after verification and accordingly provided with basic necessities of life from UNHCR, UNDP, UNICEF and WFP apart from several NGOs.
Similarly, Kachagarhi tentage village on the western outskirts of Peshawar has 89,000 Afghan DPs officials told, while the total number of refugees at Shamshatoo camp is at 46,422.
Our Mardan correspondent adds: The Mardan police have arrested 124 Afghan refugees, following sanctions imposed by the UN on Afghanistan, in Mardan district here in the last two days.
A large number of Afghans have crossed into Pakistan and reached various districts of NWFP. Police is trying to track them down.
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