Aid workers paint a grim picture: Hundreds of thousands of Afghans flee Pakistan, trying to avoid arrest and deportation. The fugitives sleep in the open without basic necessities for health and hygiene. And the Taliban-led Afghan government isn’t prepared to receive them.
Many Afghans left Pakistan in recent weeks. The mass exodus is due to an October 31 deadline to leave the country—or be arrested.
Authorities claim many foreigners are in Pakistan illegally. Officials made home visits to check migrants’ documents.
Afghans leave Pakistan at two main border crossings, Torkham and Chaman. In those places, Taliban leaders set up camps where people wait before being moved to their places of origin in Afghanistan.
But aid agencies say Torkham has no proper shelter. There is limited access to drinking water, no heating source other than open fires, no lighting, and no toilets.
U.N. agencies and aid groups are setting up facilities. But with thousands of people entering Afghanistan every day, that help can’t come fast enough.
People arrive at the Afghan border with just the clothes on their backs because their watches, jewelry, and cash were seized at the Pakistani border, says a worker from World Vision International.
Kayal Mohammad lived in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar for 17 years. Pakistani officials sent him and his five children to the Afghan border almost a week ago. He wasn’t allowed to take any household belongings with him. Everything he and his family own remains in Pakistan.
Arshad Malik is country director for Save the Children, a global nonprofit fund. Malik warns about child labor in Afghanistan and children’s involvement in smuggling. This is due to poverty. Most returning families were among the poorest migrants in Pakistan.
Additionally, Malik says, many of those returning lack education documents, making it difficult to continue their learning. Some don’t speak the local Afghan languages of Dari and Pashto because they studied Urdu and English in Pakistan.
The Taliban say they have committees working “around the clock” to help Afghans by distributing food, water, and blankets.
Afghanistan is overwhelmed by challenges, including years of drought, a beleaguered economy, and the aftermath of decades of war. As a result, experts question whether the impoverished country can reintegrate these migrants returning from Pakistan. Compounding these difficulties is a global mistrust of the Taliban-led government.
Meanwhile, in a camp along the Afghan border, Mohammad’s seven-year-old daughter weeps because she is cold. She drinks tea from a plastic bottle for breakfast and sleeps without a blanket. “There are families who have nothing here, no land, no home. They are just living under the open sky,” he says. “No one is helping.”
Pray for Afghans and other suffering people around the world. Ask God to provide them with His comfort and necessities for survival.