Protection for forcibly displaced Afghan populations in Pakistan and Iran
Respectively the second and fifth largest refugee hosting countries world-wide, Pakistan and Iran between them accommodated 2.343 million registered Afghan refugees in 2017, and an estimated further two to four million undocumented Afghans. Characterised by cycles of repatriation, deportation and subsequent episodes of re-exile, it constitutes both the second largest refugee situation globally and one of the world’s dominant protracted refugee situations. Thus both countries have carried a substantial burden since 1979 and, despite their own economic and developmental challenges, have made considerable efforts to accommodate the Afghan population and to afford minimum standards of protection. Against this background the report investigates the legal, governance and policy frameworks for the rights and protection regimes for the Afghan population in both countries (including both recognised refugees and other forcibly displaced without a formal protection status). Key protection benchmarks (refugee status determination (RSD) and protection, repatriation and deportation, freedom of movement, right to work, and access to education) are deployed. These benchmarks establish important prerequisites for refugee livelihoods and economic well-being, significant in situations of protracted displacement such as the Afghan’s experience in Iran and Pakistan. The overall aim is to clarify the complex international and domestic legal protection frameworks and contingent rights related to this population. The findings provide a platform for humanitarian and development actors to tackle key operational challenges and to enhance their advocacy for improved protection guidelines and strategies for the Afghan population in exile in these two countries.