The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Pakistani schools for Afghans close as deportations loom

ISLAMABAD: Schools teaching Afghan children in Pakistan began to close on Monday as families went into hiding ahead of a deportation deadline, Arab News reported. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson on Monday defended the country’s right to deport illegal immigrants from next month, saying the decision is in line with accepted international norms and principles. Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson, was responding to the UN Refugee Agency’s statement from Oct. 27 in which it had said it was “extremely alarmed” by Islamabad’s decision to deport illegal immigrants once the Nov. 1 deadline expires. Islamabad has launched an unprecedented crackdown on the 1.7 million Afghans it says live illegally in Pakistan, giving a Wednesday deadline before mass arrests begin. “Five schools in the capital Islamabad and adjacent city Rawalpindi that taught Afghan chil dren in their national language were set to temporarily shut after Monday’s lessons ended,” the Arab News quoted a senior teacher as saying. The schools had catered to around 2,000 students. Teachers said a police roundup was targeting undocumented Afghans, as well as affecting legally resident migrants, making students afraid to leave their homes and meaning attendance had dropped by two-thirds, forcing closures. “We teach here in an atmosphere of fear and tension, that the police may come and take us away,” said female mathematics educator Gity Wakilzda. “We are scared and living a very hard life,” said a 35-year-old Kabul resident. The United Nations (UN) says at least 600,000 Afghan migrants have arrived in Pakistan since the Islamic Emirate takeover. Since then, Pakistan’s security has deteriorated with an increase in attacks it blames on militants operating from Afghanistan, a situation it accuses Kabul of failing to stymie. From Wednesday, authorities will arrest undocumented Afghans and take them to processing centers set up around the country, from where they will be sent to the border to be deported. The Islamic Emirate has called the eviction of Afghan refugees “unfair and unjust.” Thousands of Afghans some of whom have lived for decades in Pakistan or were born in the country have begun to return voluntarily. But the UN this weekend warned forcible returns could be “a human rights catastrophe,” with women and girls at particular risk. “I am heartbroken,” said 24- year-old Medina Ibrahim, whose nephews attended one of the schools that will close from Tuesday. “We moved here to Pakistan so that our children can get an education but schools are closing here too. Where will we go now?” The Kabul Times

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.