More than 30,000 Afghans residing in Pakistan returned to their homeland since the beginning of 2015 in the wake of massacre of children by terror group Taliban at the army school in Peshawar, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said.
In January this year nearly 24,000 undocumented Afghans entered Afghanistan's Nangarhar province through Torkham border crossing in Pakistan.
This is nearly 93 per cent of the total number of undocumented Afghans who returned through Torkham during all of 2014. Roughly 94 per cent of Afghans returning in recent weeks did so spontaneously, while the rest were deported.
Currently there are approximately three million Afghans living in Pakistan - one of the world's largest, if not the largest, single host country of displaced persons. Of these, more than one million are estimated to be undocumented and lacking the legal protections afforded to documented refugees.
IOM Afghanistan Chief of Mission Richard Danziger said in Kabul, "Pakistan deported around 1,817 Afghans out of 30,599 since January while the rest left voluntarily. The majority of Afghans living in Pakistan for 20 to 25 years do not have official documents." He said this number exceeds the number of Afghans (25,000) back in their homeland from Pakistan during the entire year of 2014. He attributed this to deteriorating relations between migrants and host communities following the terror attack on the school in Peshawar.
The majority of returning Afghan families are coming from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Kashmir provinces in Pakistan. Most of the families had lived in Pakistan for an average of 20 years.
"IOM has been facilitating the return of qualified nationals worldwide for over 20 years, and Afghanistan has been one of our most successful programmes," said Danziger. "We are very proud of the contributions made to education, health care and other vital sectors."