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Pakistan warns paperless migrants about jail time, alarming Afghans waiting to come to Canada

Afghan refugee candidates and an help group making an attempt to carry them to Canada are warning the federal authorities about a brand new deadline looming in Pakistan for undocumented migrants.

Pakistan is threatening to throw folks in jail for up to three years if they don’t renew their visas by the top of 2022. The course of prices candidates a whole lot of {dollars} every — placing households that escaped Afghanistan and the Taliban with little or no cash at a critical drawback.

A video advert produced by Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior has been streaming on authorities social media channels and on tv because the begin of October. It warns that “overstaying foreigners could also be sentenced for up to three years of imprisonment” after December 31.

“The messaging by the Pakistani authorities that these Afghans which might be in Pakistan illegally will likely be deported and doubtlessly arrested could be very troubling,” stated Brian Macdonald, government director for Aman Lara, a non-profit group of Canadian veterans and interpreters who’ve been working for greater than a yr to carry Afghan refugees to Canada.

While the one international international locations named in the advert are India and Somalia, it is operating in three totally different languages: Urdu (Pakistan’s nationwide language) and Dari and Pashto, incessantly spoken by Afghans.

Mohammad Nasimi and his youngsters pose within the resort room in Islamabad the place they’re staying as they wait to transfer to Canada. (Mohammad Nasimi )

“They are concentrating on us straight,” stated Mohammad Younas Nasimi, an Afghan refugee applicant. He’s dwelling in a resort room in Islamabad along with his spouse and 6 youngsters whereas he waits to see if he qualifies for a Special Immigration Measures program run by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The program is supposed to assist speed up immigration for former army interpreters and different former workers of the Canadian authorities and armed forces, together with their households.

As a contract labourer, Nasimi helped Canadian troops in Afghanistan detect bombs and landmines laid by the Taliban.

Nasimi stated he has been waiting for a reply from IRCC for a yr.

He stated he fears his household’s standing in Pakistan is changing into extra precarious. A couple of weeks after he first noticed the advert taking part in on tv, he stated, his two-year-old son was overwhelmed up of their resort.

“I nonetheless did not discover out who the man was [that did this to him],” Nasimi stated, including his son suffered head accidents.

“His nostril was very broken and he was bleeding.”

He stated he despatched the Canadian High Commission in Pakistan a word however all he obtained was a reply stating his immigration file was nonetheless being processed.

Pakistan says Afghans with legitimate papers will likely be ‘facilitated’

In a media assertion, Pakistan’s High Commission in Canada stated it stays dedicated “to facilitating travelling from Pakistan of all these Afghans whose instances are recognized by the sponsoring international locations/governments via their Missions in Pakistan.”

It additionally stated the video advert applies to all overstaying foreigners, not simply Afghans.

“[Afghans] having legitimate journey paperwork in addition to visas/paperwork for onward journey from Pakistan have been and will likely be facilitated by the Government of Pakistan,” stated the assertion.

CBC News has spoken to one refugee applicant whose paperless standing has positioned him within the crosshairs of police.

CBC News has agreed not to establish him due to the risks he faces in Islamabad and people he would face after being deported to Afghanistan. He stated he has been waiting for eleven months to discover out if he qualifies to transfer to Canada.

He stated his father labored as a carpenter with the Canadian Armed Forces and he was a volunteer with Aman Lara earlier than he fled Afghanistan in 2021 following its fall to the Taliban.

He, his dad and mom and 9 siblings have been solely in a position to afford visa charges as soon as after they moved to Islamabad from Afghanistan, he stated. His members of the family have been waiting since to discover out if additionally they qualify for Canada’s immigration program.

In mid-October, they obtained a letter from their visitor home urging them to renew their visas. “Dear visitor we face downside from Pakistan legislation enforcement businesses,” stated the word, signed by a common supervisor for Capetown Guest House.

The Canadian High Commission and the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration have since helped him and his household transfer to one other visitor home. The household remains to be waiting for his or her immigration paperwork to be cleared by the Canadian authorities.

‘Constructive dialogue’ with Pakistan continues, Ottawa says

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Global Affairs Canada stated in media statements that they proceed to have robust relationships with the Pakistani authorities.

The IRCC stated it has an “lively and constructive dialogue” with Islamabad on “points associated to secure passage for susceptible Afghans.”

It side-stepped a query about issues associated to the video advert however stated “every nation maintains the authority to set its personal entry and exit necessities.” 

Global Affairs stated it appreciates “Pakistan’s efforts in supporting Canada’s Afghan resettlement program.” 

Roughly 18 constitution flights carrying Afghans from Pakistan have come  to Canada since January 2022, in accordance to IRCC.

Citing safety issues, nonetheless, neither division would say what number of Afghans are nonetheless waiting in Pakistan for permission to come to Canada.

Aman Lara stated it’s in contact with about 400 Afghans in the identical state of affairs.

According to a directive from Pakistan’s authorities, from June to August this yr it granted secure passage to Afghans who didn’t have legitimate journey documentation “via land air routes … on a case by case foundation, in coordination with the recipient third international locations.”

Aman Lara stated it hopes authorities in Islamabad return to that coverage.

Brian Macdonald, the manager director of Aman Lara, says the non-profit has helped carry greater than 3,000 Afghan refugees to security in Canada since Kabul fell to the Taliban. (Derek Hooper/CBC)

“We encourage the federal government of Pakistan to reopen that window,” stated Macdonald.

But in accordance to one Canadian authorities official with data of the state of affairs, Pakistan has advised Canada and different international locations with immigration measures for Afghans — such because the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany — that it can’t keep unfastened borders endlessly for the sake of their immigration packages.

The supply spoke to CBC News on the situation they not be named, as they weren’t approved to remark publicly.

The supply additionally stated that, greater than a yr after the Taliban takeover, Islamabad now not seems to be on the Afghan refugee state of affairs as an emergency.

The supply stated Pakistan does periodic social media campaigns about border guidelines.

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