Pakistan’s Huge Exit Fee For Taliban Refugees Is ‘Really Unattractive’.

Afghan refugees board a crowded bus from Karachi, Pakistan, to Afghanistan on 21 September, 2023. AFP File
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Pakistan has come under fire for imposing an ‘exit fee’ on Afghan refugees fleeing peprsecution in Afghanistan under the  Taliban’s hard-line Muslim fundamentalist regime.

me.Cash-strapped Pakistan targets refugees who wait to leave the country to move to Western nations under resettlement schemes. Each refugee is charged about $830.

Western diplomats and the United Nations have condemned the move, describing it as “shocking and frustrating.”

Talking to The Guardian, a senior Western diplomat said, “I know it is very tough economically for Pakistan but really, to try to make money off refugees is really unattractive.”

The diplomat added, “The issue has also been raised by the two UN agencies in the lead on this mess, the [UN refugee agency] UNHCR and [International Organization of Migration] IOM. It has also been raised in capitals and headquarters. I suspect everyone has also passed the message to their Pakistani contacts.”

Pakistan’s “unprecedented” move comes after the country set November 1st as a deadline for Afghan refugees to leave. After the expiration of the deadline, Pakistan began the mass deportation of undocumented Afghans.

Thousands of Afghans with expired visas or incorrect documents have been living in Pakistan since 2021 after the Taliban took over Afghanistan hoping to restart their work in Western nations. Most are still eligible to settle in Western countries on humanitarian grounds.

For example the UK government has planned to settle 20,000 people from Afghanistan, and the Biden adminstration in the US has agreed to settle 25,000 Afghans.

As per the rules set by Pakistan, Afghan refugees can only pay the amount of $830 via credit card even though most of them do not have access to credit cards.

Another unnamed diplomat said, “This makes it worse as it should be paid by refugees and most of them don’t have credit cards. I think we need a cooperative approach of working together to help the refugees and we expect Pakistan would help.”

When officials flagged their concerns about the exit fee, they were told that the initial plan was to charge $1,000 but the amount was later reduced to $830.

“It is very bizarre and I personally find it very frustrating. If Pakistan wants to facilitate the process of the settlement of refugees in the West then they should not make it more complicated with such absurd conditions. What is the justification for this exit permit fee? To make a lot of money?” the diplomat added.

Source: FirstPost.
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