Asia

Pakistan extends stay of Afghan refugees until year end

  • In this Thursday, June 23, 2016 photo, Afghan refugees wait for their documents to go back to neighboring Afghanistan at the UNHCR's Repatriation Center in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif permitted registered Afghan refugees to remain in the country until the end of the year, a foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday, June 30, 2016 as an earlier deadline was set to expire. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

    In this Thursday, June 23, 2016 photo, Afghan refugees wait for their documents to go back to neighboring Afghanistan at the UNHCR's Repatriation Center in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif permitted registered Afghan refugees to remain in the country until the end of the year, a foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday, June 30, 2016 as an earlier deadline was set to expire. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, June 23, 2016 photo, Afghan refugees wait for their documents to go back to neighboring Afghanistan at the UNHCR's Repatriation Center in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif permitted registered Afghan refugees to remain in the country until the end of the year, a foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday, June 30, 2016 as an earlier deadline was set to expire. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

    In this Thursday, June 23, 2016 photo, Afghan refugees wait for their documents to go back to neighboring Afghanistan at the UNHCR's Repatriation Center in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif permitted registered Afghan refugees to remain in the country until the end of the year, a foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday, June 30, 2016 as an earlier deadline was set to expire. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)  (The Associated Press)

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has allowed registered Afghan refugees to remain in the country until the end of the year, as an earlier deadline is set to expire.

In a statement late Wednesday, the government says Sharif has directed authorities to immediately engage the U.N. refugee agency and the Afghan government for gradual relocation of refugee camps in Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Pakistan is currently hosting at least 1.5 million refugees. An additional 1 million unregistered Afghans are staying in many parts of Pakistan since 1980s, when they escaped violence at home.

The decision to extend the stay of the refugees was announced at the request of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.