The displaced Afghans making gruelling journeys to survive | In Pictures

The barren desert plain among the mountains of eastern Afghanistan is filled with hundreds of thousands of people.

Some live in tents. Others live out in the open, among the piles of the few belongings they managed to take as they were forced from neighbouring Pakistan.

The sprawling camp of people returning to Afghanistan through the Torkham border crossing is the latest facet of Afghans’ long, painful search for a stable home.

More than 40 years of war, violence and poverty in Afghanistan have created one of the world’s most uprooted populations.

Some 6 million Afghans are refugees outside the country. Another 3.5 million people are displaced within the country of 40 million, driven from their homes by war, earthquakes, drought or resources that are being depleted.

Pakistan’s decision earlier this year to deport undocumented Afghans has struck them hard.

Many Afghans have lived for decades in Pakistan, driven there by successive wars at home. When the order was announced, hundreds of thousands feared arrest and fled back to Afghanistan. Often, Pakistani authorities prevented them from taking anything with them, they say.

Their first stop has been the camp in Torkham, where they might spend days or weeks before Taliban officials send them to a camp elsewhere.

The expulsions from Pakistan have swelled the already large numbers of Afghans who are trying to migrate to Iran, hoping to find work.

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