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Afghan Refugees Flock Home Amid Crackdown In Pakistan

Almost 90,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Pakistan to their home country in recent months. Many claim to have been beaten by police, detained, and evicted from their homes in Pakistan, which has set a December 31 deadline for the return of all Afghan refugees still living there. (Photos by Vaiva Katinaityte)


Afghan women cover their faces at their temporary home in Kabul. They are among nearly 90,000 Afghan refugees who have returned from Pakistan in recent months.  
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Afghan women cover their faces at their temporary home in Kabul. They are among nearly 90,000 Afghan refugees who have returned from Pakistan in recent months.

 

Some returnees have made makeshift dwellings on government land on the outskirts of Kabul. 
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Some returnees have made makeshift dwellings on government land on the outskirts of Kabul. 

Many returnees say that in Pakistan, they have been subject to beatings, detentions by police, and evictions from their homes. The police crackdown began after the December 2014 attack on a school in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan, which killed 150 people, mostly children. The attack was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. 
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Many returnees say that in Pakistan, they have been subject to beatings, detentions by police, and evictions from their homes. The police crackdown began after the December 2014 attack on a school in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan, which killed 150 people, mostly children. The attack was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. 

Many returnees live on meager handouts from the government and foreign aid groups. 
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Many returnees live on meager handouts from the government and foreign aid groups. 

Naimatullah was running a school for Afghan refugees in the Pakistani town of Sialkot. Now he lives in a refugee camp outside Kabul. 
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Naimatullah was running a school for Afghan refugees in the Pakistani town of Sialkot. Now he lives in a refugee camp outside Kabul. 

Latifa (left), a mother of five, was evicted from her home in Darra Adam Khel, a town in northwest Pakistan, where she had lived for nearly 20 years. 
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Latifa (left), a mother of five, was evicted from her home in Darra Adam Khel, a town in northwest Pakistan, where she had lived for nearly 20 years. 

Returnees have little access to shelter, water, or medicine. These children, all born to Afghan families in Pakistan, can't go to school in Kabul because they do not have Afghan identity cards.  
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Returnees have little access to shelter, water, or medicine. These children, all born to Afghan families in Pakistan, can't go to school in Kabul because they do not have Afghan identity cards.
 

Some families have been lucky enough to bring their belongings, but many left Pakistan with little more than the clothes on their backs.
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Some families have been lucky enough to bring their belongings, but many left Pakistan with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Pakistan has issued a December 31 deadline for the return of all 3.5 million Afghan refugees residing there. 
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Pakistan has issued a December 31 deadline for the return of all 3.5 million Afghan refugees residing there. 

A refugee woman shows henna decorations on her hands.
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A refugee woman shows henna decorations on her hands.

Eight-year-old Negin fled the Pakistani city of Gujrat two months ago with her parents and two sisters. 
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Eight-year-old Negin fled the Pakistani city of Gujrat two months ago with her parents and two sisters. 

Haji Khanzada, a local elder, provides food and water for the returnees. 
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Haji Khanzada, a local elder, provides food and water for the returnees. 

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