UNHCR stresses support for Afghan refugees host communities

Peshawar   -  Wrapping up a three-day visit, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has called for bolstering efforts towards longer-term solutions for Afghans in Pakistan and support for their host communities.

Mr. Grandi visited Peshawar and Haripur, meeting with Afghan refugees in urban settings and in a refugee village. People he met shared their anxiety regarding their situation but also expressed their desire to contribute to their communities in Pakistan and eventually in Afghanistan.

Later, Mr. Grandi met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Amir Muqam, and senior officials from the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. During his discussions, the High Commissioner called for the timely extension of the Proof of Registration (PoR) cards, a critical identity document held by over 1.3 million Afghan refugees. Grandi appreciated the suspension of the “Illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan” and sought assurances that it would remain on hold.

He called for Pakistan’s tradition of hospitality towards Afghans with international protection needs to continue.

Recognizing the challenges facing Pakistan and the generosity of its government in hosting Afghan refugees for over 45 years, Grandi called for an urgent reset of the aid model towards solutions and responsibility sharing.

This includes fostering new partnerships and developing innovative approaches to addressing the protracted displacement situation. He offered to work towards a dialogue later this year, bringing together key stakeholders to develop solutions that benefit both the Afghan population in Pakistan and the host country itself.

Grandi also committed to redoubling efforts to create conditions conducive for returns to Afghanistan, including material conditions, access to services, job opportunities, and rights, paving the way for sustainable voluntary returns in the future. In the meantime, as Pakistan continues to host some 3 million Afghans, all solutions need to be explored, including third country resettlement and longer-term solutions within Pakistan.