Many Challenges Faced by Afghan Refugees in Pakistan
11/03/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to Evangelical Focus, refugees fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan are facing many challenges as they arrive in Pakistan. Local Christians claim these challenges are being felt especially by the Afghan Christians who are forced to hide their religious identity due to personal safety concerns.
Since the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan in August, millions of Afghans have fled the country fearing the Taliban’s repressive rule. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, up to 2.2 million Afghans have fled the country and sought shelter in Iran and Pakistan.
“People are crossing through villages and towns,” a Pakistani Christian couple, whose identity was withheld for security reasons, told Protestante Digital. “There is no control system. It’s easy to cross the border. The Pakistani government has registered some Afghan refugees with temporary cards that are valid for two years.”
However, Evangelical Focus reports that the Pakistani government is unhappy with the arrival of displaced Afghans. Recently, Pakistan has claimed they are not in a position to accept more refugees and has threatened to deport Afghans caught illegally entering the country.
“International forces and the UN should take action to help them inside Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s National Security Adviser, Moeed Yusuf, recently said.
In Pakistan, many Afghan refugees are forced to hide from authorities, fearing deportation. This situation is even more complex for Afghan Christians as they are forced to additionally hide their religious identity from other Afghans.
“Many are hiding in mosques,” the Pakistani Christian couple explained. “People in Pakistan are surprised because there are Christians among Afghan refugees. They cannot practice their faith or go to the church because if they do someone might recognize that they are Afghans, and the pastor will get into trouble.”
With the oncoming winter season, many Afghan refugees are in desperate need of winter clothing and proper shelter. Pakistan’s Christian community is seeking to assist, but due to restrictions by the government and the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are struggling to do what they can for displaced Afghans.
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