Pakistan authorities in the North West Frontier Province on Thursday have officially closed their borders to Afghanistan, to prevent refugees from fleeing to Pakistan. The Taliban’s military advances, policies of gender apartheid and genocide and one of the worst droughts in the regions history have caused ten of thousands of refugee to flee to Pakistan in recent weeks.
More than three million Afghan refugees are living in Pakistan. Pakistan officials report that they are now “overburdened” by the influx and will not allow any more refugees to cross the border. Those refugees that have been displaced in Afghanistan face continued hardship as winter approaches, and as snow makes roads impassable, hindering the transport of aid. The World Food Program has predicted that as many as 1 million Afghans could face starvation this winter. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that more than 36,000 Afghan refugees fled during the month of October alone. In September, after the Taliban take over of Taloqan, more than 150,000 persons living in the city were reported to have been displaced.
Pakistan is one of three countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in the world that officially recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban regime has imposed one of the harshest forms of oppression, known as gender apartheid, on the women and girls living in Afghanistan. Gender apartheid in Afghanistan has made women virtual prisoners in their own home, violating women’s freedom of movement, and prohibiting the human rights of women such as education, work and freedom from violence. These harsh restrictions on women range from banning women from wearing shoes that make noise to closing public baths for women.