ISLAMABAD- The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday made it clear that only those Afghans would be considered refugees who would hold a valid proof of registration (PoR) cards valid until December 31, 2015.

The refugee agency urged all Afghan refugees, who hold PoR cards that have expired by 31 December 2012 and who have not yet collected their renewed PoR cards, to approach their nearest registration centre, before the deadline of 31 December 2014.

“In order to continue to be considered as refugees, Afghans with PoR cards must renew their cards by this date,” said UNHCR Officer in charge Yoshimi Saita in Islamabad.

Following the decision by the government of Pakistan in July 2013 to extend the validity of the PoR cards, the process of replacing PoR cards that expired in December 2012 with the new cards started in February this year and will conclude on 31 December 2014.

The PoR card is an important identity document that provides temporary legal stay of registered Afghans in Pakistan, and is valid until 31 December 2015.

“The renewed PoR card is a very important identity document that grants legal status and protects Afghan refugees from arbitrary detention and deportation during their temporary stay in Pakistan,” Yoshimi Saita added.

During the PoR card renewal exercise that was jointly conducted by the NADRA and UNHCR, to date more than 90 percent of Afghan refugees have received their new PoR cards.

However, NADRA has confirmed that 120,639 PoR cards have not yet been collected. Through six PoR Card Modification (PCM) centers in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Haripur, Rawalpindi and Quetta, which are operated by NADRA, registered refugees can collect and/or modify their renewed PoR cards and register the births of their children up to age five.  Moreover, some 182,000 children who have reached the age of five years since the last PoR card issuance exercise in 2010 and who are already registered with their parents can now receive their individual PoR cards.

All Afghan refugees holding PoR cards issued by NADRA with a validity date of 31 December 2012 are eligible to receive the new cards. Afghans must bring their existing PoR cards to the registration centers.

From January 2015, UNHCR will only consider Afghan refugees holding the new PoR cards with the validity date of 31 December 2015 for any services provided by the agency and its partners, including assistance for voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan.  Afghan refugees who still carrying the old PoR cards with the validity date of December 2012 will no longer be entitled to any assistance provided by UNHCR and its partners.