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UN agency head meets Pakistan's prime minister over Afghan refugees after clampdown

THE head of the United Nations refugee agency met the Pakistani prime minister today to discuss the situation of Afghan refugees living in uncertainty since Islamabad began a persistent anti-migrant crackdown last year.

Pakistan has long hosted an estimated 1.7 million Afghans. 

Many fled their home country after the Taliban takeover in 2021, with thousands waiting in Pakistan for resettlement in the United States and elsewhere. 

Since the widely criticised clampdown started in November, an estimated 600,000 Afghans have returned home.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, who arrived in Pakistan on Sunday, spent two days meeting Afghan refugees. 

Posting on social media platform X, he said: “I spent time with Afghan refugees whose resourcefulness is testimony to their strength — and to Pakistan’s long hospitality.”

Mr Grandi added that his visit aimed to “discuss how we can best support both amidst growing challenges.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Shabaz Sharif told the UN official that Afghan refugees were treated with “exemplary respect and dignity,” despite facing multiple challenges, according to a statement released by his office today. 

Mr Sharif also urged the international community to “recognise the burden being shouldered by Pakistan while hosting such a large refugee population and demonstrate collective responsibility.”

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