The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Islamabad has announced that the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees registered in Pakistan was suspended due to the closure of the Torkham and Chaman border crossing points with Afghanistan.
It should be noted that the closure of the Torkham and Chaman border was decided by the government in the context of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
UNHCR voluntary repatriation centers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Nowshera and Balili and Quetta in Balochistan are closed until further notice.
In addition, the payment centers in Afghanistan have also been closed.
"We are temporarily suspending the voluntary repatriation program because of the circumstances," said UNHCR Deputy Spokeswoman Ain Hall in Pakistan.
He said the UNHCR's top priority is to support global efforts to reduce the spread and impact of the Coronavirus, and the government is to assist Pakistan in its comprehensive preparedness and response plans.
It should be noted that after a three-month winter break, the voluntary repatriation program resumed on March 2 this year and sent 9 families of 28 families back to Afghanistan.
It may be recalled that last month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with a delegation of Afghan refugees in Islamabad and said that Pakistan is counted among the countries with the highest number of refugees.
He had said that there are 27 million refugees in Pakistan as a whole, while 24 million registered refugees were affected by the Afghan war.
It should be noted that in June last year, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and UNHCR unanimously agreed to a 12-point joint declaration for the respectful return of Afghan refugees.
In these 12 points, the three sides expressed their commitment to the tripartite agreement on the voluntary return of Afghan refugees based in Pakistan.
The three sides reiterated that it has been 40 years since the mass migration from Afghanistan, and also praised the government of Pakistan for providing refugees to Afghan refugees for four decades.
It was said at the meeting that it is regrettable that around 85% of the world's refugees are cared for in developing countries, including Pakistan so that the developed countries should play their role in accordance with UN resolutions.