Pak. to screen Afghan refugees despite United Nations plea

ISLAMABAD, MAY 20. The Pakistani Government has decided to begin screening of Afghan refugees in the various camps near Peshawar as part of the operation to deport illegal migrants, ignoring the pleas of the United Nations and the Taliban.

The administration of NorthWest Frontier Province (NWFP) has constituted 100 official teams to simultaneously undertake the screening in three major refugee camps. ``After completion of the process the Government, in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will repatriate all Afghans living illegally in camps in Pakistan,'' the NWFP Governor, Lt. Gen. (retd.) Iftikhar Hussain Shah, said in a statement.

An estimated two lakh Afghans have crossed over to Pakistan since September last year and the Governor of NWFP has claimed that more than 70 of the new arrivals were illegal immigrants. The decision of the Pakistani Government to deport the illegal Afghan migrants came even as the United Nations claimed that in the last two weeks more than 25 children have died on account of heatstroke and dehydration in the ill-egal Afghan refugee camp at Jalozai near Peshawar.

The Jalozai camp has the source of tension between the United Nations and the military government in Pakistan. The Musharraf regime has refused to allow registration of the refugees in the camp on the plea that it would not like to encourage any further migration from Afghanistan.