Refugee relocation across Pak-Afghan border begins
QUETTA: Hundreds of Afghan refugees were relocated on Monday from the waiting area at Zero Point on the Pak-Afghan border.
390 people were relocated to Afghanistan’s Zhar-e-Dasht camp in 23 trucks and 405 people were relocated to Balochistan’s Muhammad Khel camp in 19 trucks.
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Quetta Spokesman Babar Baloch said the decision to evacuate the waiting area was taken last month in a tripartite meeting. Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR decided to evacuate the waiting area by July 15. The relocation would take about 15 to 2o days he told Daily Times.
Chaman District Coordination Officer (DCO) Saqib Aziz said the Afghan authorities had raised the issue that people in the waiting area were creating criminal problems in Spin Boldak. He said people were caught smuggling goods across the border. Mr Aziz said that the waiting area on the Zero Point of the Pak Afghan border enabled refugees to move freely across the border.
Afghan refugee Roman said the refugees were treated badly in the tents and especially when an incident occurred in Spin Boldak the authorities blamed the people in the waiting areas. “We were treated like Taliban, and we were asked about what was happening in Spin Boldak and other areas because we were living here in tents”, he said. Roman said sometimes forces entered their camps searching for suspects.
When another refugee was asked about the relocation, he said all refugees living in the waiting area belonged to northern Afghanistan but they could not move to their home areas because they were discriminated against on the basis of their ethnicity and language. He said, “We are Pashtun and the Uzbeks in the northern areas do not tolerate us. The Uzbeks will kill us. We have only two choices: to select either Zhar-e-Dast camp or Muhammad Khel camp. He said the majority had decided to move to the Zhar-e-Dasht camp where most of them would start farming.
The relocation issue was highlighted last month when Afghan authorities placed about 20 dead bodies of suspected Taliban in Pakistani territory claiming that these people belonged to Pakistan. This act on the part of Afghan authorities intensified the situation and Pakistan formally protested to the Afghan government. Afghan authorities said the people involve in the Spin Boldak incidents were Pakistani, hence they were Pakistan’s responsibility.