Statement on the Deteriorating Situation in Pakistan for Displaced Afghans

October 6, 2023

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation faced by displaced Afghans in Pakistan as authorities there have announced plans for a mass deportation of more than a million undocumented refugees. This announcement and subsequent actions by Pakistani authorities have resulted in the expulsion of Afghans from their homes, led to widespread fear among Afghans, and could develop into a large-scale human rights crisis.

The planned mass deportation will impact as many as 1.7 million Afghans, including women and girls who have fled alarming levels of violence and gender apartheid in Afghanistan and do not have the option of safe return. This decision and the impact of being forced from their homes in Pakistan will expose Afghan women and children to increased risk of violence and exploitation.

One young woman we spoke with, who supports her mother and two younger siblings with disabilities, told us:   

“We were kicked out of our home and now we can not find a place to stay because no one wants to rent to Afghans. What if they start arresting women and children, too? We are very afraid and our mental health is in a very bad state.”

These developments are also impacting women directly supported by CW4WAfghan, whose mental and physical health is severely affected as they await processing and resettlement to Canada. Numerous reports have indicated that, although authorities say the order will only apply to undocumented Afghans, the treatment is being felt indiscriminately and regardless of legal status, as Pakistani authorities arbitrarily arrest and harass Afghan nationals. Many report that they are already forced to pay large sums of money to evade arrest and to access simple services such as the purchase of mobile phones.

“For us refugees whose lives are already in danger this is not a deadline, it feels like a death sentence. We do not have any shelter in these two lands. In Afghanistan is the enemy, where my family’s death for the political work we did is certain. Here [in Pakistan] nobody will give us a roof.”

CW4WAfghan urges the Government of Canada to take immediate steps to ensure the protection and rights of displaced Afghans in Pakistan and to work with the international community to prevent an escalation of this human rights crisis. Canada has been a leader in supporting displaced Afghans in Pakistan and can continue to use every diplomatic channel available to advocate for the rights of Afghans. We also urge continued support for Afghans to safely access services such as healthcare, housing and education. We echo the calls of Amnesty International and others in urging the Government of Pakistan to immediately reverse this decision and to stop the arbitrary arrest and harassment of Afghans.  

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