UNHCR to make world appeal for fund raising

Afghan refugees repatriation

ISLAMABAD - Take dollars and go home. This was what Pakistan and UN refugee agency (UNHCR) hinted at on Wednesday during a joint press conference emphasizing that the Afghan refugees in Pakistan should be voluntarily repatriated to their hometowns in Afghanistan.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, said UNHCR and the hosting refugee countries intend to make an international fund raising appeal so that Afghan refugees could be settled in their hometowns in a dignified manner.
Flanked by Federal Minister for SAFRON Lt Gen (retired) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Guterres said under the enhanced voluntary return and reintegration package or EVRRP, each returning Afghan family would be given 4,000 dollars on their voluntary return to Afghanistan including other incentives.
With Pakistan host to over 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees, Minister Baloch said his ministry with assistance of NADRA would conduct a fresh survey for counting unregistered refugees which he said can swell the number to over three million.
Guterres said human displacement has reached its peak in the history as conflicts in Middle East and Africa have rendered millions of people homeless adding it was high time to help the longstanding issue of Afghan refugees.
A joint communiqué issued later called on the international community to redouble their engagement in Afghanistan and support the efforts of the National Unity Government in Kabul that is serious about welcoming Afghan refugees.
In line with UNHCR’s global efforts to raise the profile of the Afghan refugee situation higher on the agenda of the international community, the 2015 High-Level Segment (HLS) of the 66th Session of UNHCR’s Executive Committee will be dedicated to the Afghan refugees situation.
The HLS will acknowledge the contribution of host countries and seek to garner enhanced political and financial support from the international community in support of host communities and towards the lasting solutions for Afghan refugees.
The communiqué has been issued in pursuance of the UN High Commissioner’s meetings with the acting President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, detailed deliberations held with the Minister for States and Frontier Regions, the Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs and the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as his visit to the Afghan refugee/TDP camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Commending the role of Pakistan in hosting the refugees for decades, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed his appreciation and solidarity with the government and people of Pakistan for having generously hosted the world’s largest protracted refugee situation.
He highlighted the important contribution that Pakistan’s generosity has continued to make to regional stability, but also more broadly to the global refugee cause, at a time when the world witnesses increased asylum fatigue and pushback of refugees amidst unfolding humanitarian crises that have in 2015 uprooted the largest number of people in the recorded history.
Both Guterres and Baloch acknowledged the vision of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani to make Afghanistan the common home of all Afghans and to ensure that no Afghan is forced to live away from his home in future.
They welcomed concrete steps taken to fulfil this resolve, such as the establishment of the National Refugee Commission under his auspices, and the commitment of the Ministry for Rural Rehabilitation and Development to enable access of returnees to rural and urban community infrastructures through the National Solidarity Programme.
To a question, the High Commissioner said an appeal would be launched before Gulf States for helping the refugees to go back home and earn livelihood in a dignified way.
“We have also requested Afghan authorities to allocate land for the refugees so they could construct their houses there. We will provide them money to construct their homes when they return to native areas in Afghanistan,” the SAFRON minister said.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt