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With 2.5 million registered Afghan refugees between them, Pakistan and Iran are respectively the second and fifth largest refugee hosting countries world-wide. In addition these two countries host, in total, an estimated undocumented Afghan population of between 2 and 3 million, the majority of whom are likely to have been forcibly displaced. Characterised by cycles of exile, repatriation, deportation and subsequent episodes of re-exile, globally this constitutes both the second largest and one of the world’s dominant protracted refugee situations. Given the length of the displacement crisis, the majority of displaced Afghans have been born in exile in Pakistan and Iran. Both countries have therefore carried an enormous burden over many decades 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 aim of this briefing note is to describe and provide key stakeholders with an up-to-date overview of the complex legal, governance and policy frameworks for the protection and contingent rights of the Afghan population (including both recognised refugees and other forcibly displaced Afghans without formal protection status), residing in Pakistan and Iran. Based only on a desk study analysis which synthesises available documentation and secondary data, it is important to emphasise that this briefing note has not benefitted from primary data collection, such as interviews with key stakeholders, which would have provided a more detailed and nuanced account of these conditions.





Danish Refugee Council

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