The staff of Pakistan-Turk schools is seeking refugee status in Pakistan. According to The NEWS, around 108 staff of the Pak-Turk schools applied for the refugee status.
Last year about 450 people (teachers and their families) were given three days notice to leave Pakistan. But even after Lahore High Court (LHC) barred the authorities from deporting the teachers of Pak-Turk schools, they were pressured into leaving the country.
With the continuous pressure of the Pakistani government to leave the country, the 98 staff of Pak-Turk International Schools, along with their families, has sought refugee status in the country through United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Out of 108, 10 people along with their families managed to leave the country earlier because of unexpired visas.
98 people of the Pak-Turk school’s staff along with their families of around 250 people have been placed under the UNHCR protection with the issuance of a temporary certificate of “asylum seeker.”
The Pak-Turk schools were administered by a foundation linked to Fethullah Gulen, once an ally of the Turkish President. After a failed military coup in July 2016, Turkey blamed Gulen for sponsoring the takeover attempt, which resulted in a global crackdown on the religious and educational network led by him.
In August 2016, The Turkish foreign minister had in August asked Pakistan to close the Pak-Turk schools resulting in the removal of Turkish principals and dissolution of the Turkish board of directors. Following the expiry of visas in 2016, the staff was asked to leave the country, but the Sindh High Court later along with the high courts of KP, Punjab and Balochistan suspended the government’s orders.
A spokesman for the UNHCR confirmed that the affectees will stay in UN protection until November 2017 and that efforts are underway to resettle them in another country.
Turkey’s Maarif Foundation will now take over the administration of 28 Pak-Turk Schools in Pakistan. The Foundation was founded last year by the funds provided by the Saudi government and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The officials of the foundation would undergo a two-month long English language course at the National University of Modern Languages (Numl) in Islamabad.