According to the IOM, in the last two months alone, nearly 375,000 Afghans have left Pakistan, mainly using the Torkham and Spin Boldak border posts, near Kabul and Kandahar, respectively.
The number of daily border crossings has increased from 200 to 17,000, creating unprecedented pressure on resources and infrastructure.
“Their situation is desperate; Most people told us they were forced to leave the country and abandon their possessions and savings,” said Maria Moita, IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission.
“People arriving in Afghanistan are extremely vulnerable and need immediate support at the border as well as long-term support in areas of return,” she added.
The crisis erupted following Pakistan’s implementation of the “Illegal Aliens Repatriation Plan”, which sets a November 1 deadline for the “voluntary return” of all undocumented Afghans in Pakistan to their country of origin. origin.
Essential assistance, including shelter, water, sanitation, essential household items, health care, protection, nutrition services and cash assistance for basic needs, transport and food , is provided by a border consortium led by IOM.
However, the increase in forced returns has necessitated the creation of larger reception centers to provide assistance to returning Afghans before they head to their intended areas of return.
“This is a significant humanitarian crisis and funds are urgently needed to continue providing immediate post-arrival assistance to ensure a safe and dignified return,” Ms Moita said.
Urgent help needed
As the crisis develops, the border consortium has launched an initial appeal for help, anticipating the need for a review and additional resources. The situation is particularly difficult for women and girls in Afghanistan and, as winter approaches, the need for international support is even more urgent.
After decades of conflict, instability and economic crisis, Afghanistan will struggle to absorb the high number of returning families, many of whom have not lived in the country for decades, if ever, according to the IOM.
“With more than six million people already internally displaced, Afghans returning from Pakistan face a precarious and uncertain future,” the agency said.
Afghanistan currently has the third highest number of internally displaced people in the world.