The Afghan Refugee Crisis is one of the largest and most enduring forced migrations in history. Afghan Refugees first began to migrate to Pakistan due to the 1979 invasion of the Soviet Union. The resulting conflict with the Mujahideen resistance forces caused more and more families to leave. As the Soviet Union withdrew in 1989, political instability followed, allowing the Taliban to come into power. 9/11 led to the current war with the United States, United Kingdom and other western nations.
These are the push factors for the refugees, and because this is a forced migration there are no pull factors, people are leaving because they have no choice. This migration fits in most obviously with Ravenstein's first law, which states that most migrants travel short distances, with numbers decreasing as distance increases. Most Afghan refugees only ever get to Pakistan, as most hold on to hope that they will soon be able to return home. An interesting contradiction to Ravenstein's seventh law, stating that males are more likely to cross borders, though females migrate more within their country of birth, as the majority of people living in Pakistan's refugee camps are women and children. However, it is difficult to attribute Ravenstein's laws to Afghan Refugees due to the nature of a forced migration.

An example of Afghan Refugee Camps in Pakistan

This migration is considered a forced migration, as the refugees leave due to "a well founded fear of persecution". Currently there are around 1, 774, 400 Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Decades of conflict and instability have led to extreme poverty and few economic opportunities. Roughly 40% of Afghans living in rural areas are malnourished and 70% of the population is living on less than $2 a day. In addition around two thirds of those over fifteen are illiterate, and infant mortality rates are as high as one in five. Many refugees have also left the country due to political affiliation. Particularly under Taliban rule, those that were seen to not agree with those in power faced intimidation and persecution.
Since 2002 however, refugees have begun to return to Afghanistan, with up to 1.9 million returning home in 2002 and 2003. Organizations such as the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) have been assisting families with their return, a process known as repatriation, where the refugee is able to return to their home country. However many returning families end up becoming categorized as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP's) as there is still little opportunity or stability to return to.

Pakistan is on the lower right of the map, with most refugee camps residing close to the border with Afghanistan.
The map on the left indicates the migration of Afghan refugees to neighbouring countries, note that Pakistan has received the majority of the people with around 2,000,000 refugees as of June 2001. Unfortunately the issue has since escalated.


Some of the Effects of The Migration on Both Home and Host Country:

- A lack of people to tend to crops has resulted in food shortages in many parts of the country.
- Not enough people are qualified to work in government or perform basic services such as healthcare and education, further intensifying the issue.
- Law enforcement is difficult due to corruption, lack of funding and people to work in it.
- Transportation has been affected, due to the deterioration of roads and other forms of transport becoming dangerous or impossible.
- Particularly in rural areas, those families that returned or never left face a lack of economic opportunities, basic services, sufficient food, and clean water.
- At the highest point of migration to Pakistan (2001-2002) pressure on the environment for space, soil suitable for agriculture, and water. However as families begin to return these pressures are once again increasing.
- Afghans were unwilling to do what they considered ‘detracting tasks’
- Pakistanis were injured and killed in conflicts over access to water and land use and other resources
- Ongoing violence and lack of economic opportunities.
- Pakistan is saddled with the world's largest refugee population.
- Afghan refugees into Pakistan’s western borderlands pose difficult problems for the government of Pakistan



· Laws and policy’s
- Pakistan is not the ones to be the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol and has no legislation to recognize refugees. A Tripartite Agreement between the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan and UNHCR regulates the management of registered Afghans.
· Population increase-
- Due to the war in Afghanistan, Afghans have been forced to come to Pakistan making Pakistan become over populated. The Afghans have been by far the largest group assisted by UNHCR in Pakistan.
· UNCHR funds gave free education to the refugees.
· Conditions in refugees camps became better
- The United Nations refugee agency and the Government of Pakistan are stepping up efforts to consolidate Afghan refugee camps in the country
· UNHCR helping the Afghan refugees to go back home
- After years of caring for millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Afghans dashed hopes that all could return home and the start of mass repatriation in 2002. The UN is hoping and helping them threw this
· Detention/ Access to courts Authorities
· The United Nations plans to ask foreign governments for money to support the massive humanitarian relief effort in Pakistan.02b-PAK-refugees.jpg


Khoser, Khalid, and Susanne Schmeidl. "Displacement, Human
Development, and Security in Afghanistan." Brookings. Brookings, 11
Oct. 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.
< papers/2009/0216_afghanistan_ koser.aspx>.

"Pakistan Country Report." USCRI. USCRI, 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2009.
< countryreports.aspx?__ VIEWSTATE= dDwtOTMxNDcwOTk7O2w8Q291bnRyeU REOkdvQnV0dG9uOz4% 2BUwqzZxIYLI0SfZCZue2XtA0UFEQ% 3D&cid=2337&subm=&ssm=&map=& searchtext=&CountryDD% 3ALocationList=>.

Koser, Khalid. "The Migration-Displacement Nexus in Afghanistan." Brookings. Brookings, 12 Oct. 2009. Web. 12 Oct. 2009. <>.

"UNHCR Pakistan: Solving the Afghan Refugee Problem." UNHCR Pakistan. United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Web. 12 Oct. 2009. <>

Rutter, Jill. Refugees: We Left Because We Had To. Ed. Toby Buxton. London: The Refugee Council, 1991. Print.