Issue Brief on “Afghan Refugees in Pakistan”


Pakistan has provided shelter to one of the world’s largest protracted refugee populations – more than 5 million Afghan refugees have been living in Pakistan since 1979. Continued violence and political and economic turmoil in Afghanistan have discouraged refugees to return and resulted in continued influx of Afghan refugees into Pakistan.

Since 2002, 3.8 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan. Currently, there are 3 million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees, however, the number of unregistered refugees is believed to be far greater since movement across the Pak-Afghan border has traditionally taken place under an unregulated and unmonitored system, thus making it close to impossible to give an accurate number of unregistered refugees.  As a result, Pakistan’s has been the most vulnerable country to mass movement, militants, trafficking of drugs and arms from Afghanistan.

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