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Pakistan charging refugees $830 to leave

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Pakistan has confirmed that it is charging an $830 fee for undocumented refugees seeking to depart the country. This fee applies to individuals who entered without a visa, particularly affecting a significant number of Afghans, many of whom fled the Taliban’s resurgence in 2021. Those with expired visas will face charges based on the duration of their overstay. Notably, this fee does not apply to individuals returning to Afghanistan.

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While Pakistan is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, it hosts a substantial population of Afghan refugees. However, concerns have arisen regarding the imposition of fees on those relocated on humanitarian grounds. This move has drawn criticism, especially considering the challenges many Afghans face in obtaining proper documentation.

Amnesty International and other organizations have highlighted the difficulties faced by Afghans in obtaining necessary paperwork. A senior Pakistani diplomat expressed worry about the precedent set by charging individuals granted humanitarian visas, urging a reconsideration of this policy. There have been indications of a potential policy review, although the government has not officially confirmed this to the BBC.

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The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has been actively engaging with Pakistani authorities, advocating exemptions from these fees for refugees. They underscored Pakistan’s history of providing asylum and protection to Afghan refugees, emphasizing the importance of continuing this support.

In response, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the imposition of fines for visa overstays, aligning it with immigration laws similar to those in other nations, including the United Kingdom. They maintained that any fines imposed by Pakistan comply with its laws.


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