Joint UNHCR-Government briefing to Islamabad donor community held

The UN Refugee Agency has welcomed the Government of Pakistan’s decision to extend the Tripartite Agreement on Voluntary Repatriation and the Proof of Registration (PoR) cards held by Afghan refugees until the end of 2015, and called for increased donor support to Pakistan.

UNHCR-briefing-pakistan“The Cabinet decisions demonstrate the Government of Pakistan’s commitment to implementing the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and I urge the donor countries to respect the commitments that they made in Geneva in May 2012 to support its implementation,” said Mr. Neill Wright, UNHCR’s Representative in Pakistan during a joint UNHCR-Government briefing to the Islamabad donor community on Monday.

The briefing, hosted by UNHCR, was attended by the Minister for States and Frontier Regions – Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Secretary SAFRON – Mr. Amjad Nazir, Chief Commissioner Afghan Refugees (CCAR) – Dr. Imran Zeb, members of the international community, UN officials and NGO representatives.

The UNHCR Representative continued, “These decisions show the commitment of Pakistan to its longstanding tradition of offering asylum and hospitality, and include new steps to facilitate the legal economic activity of refugees through respecting the right of refugees to open a bank account and register businesses.”

Speaking at the occasion, Federal Minister for SAFRON, Abdul Qadir Baloch explained that the Cabinet had constituted a committee to oversee the effective implementation of the new policy.

He elaborated on the content of the policy, “The new policy includes implementation of the regional solutions strategy, ensures the registration of all Afghans, effective border control and management, the adoption of National Refugee Law, and requires donors to support the Government of Afghanistan to undertake efforts for sustainable reintegration inside Afghanistan.”

He lauded the efforts of the United Nations and the members of the international community and development agencies for supporting and assisting Pakistan in hosting Afghan refugees, saying, “We seek the continued support of our friends in the international community to continue to assist us in coping with this important issue. We will also focus on skills training in Pakistan to enable returning refugees to contribute to Afghanistan’s future.”

Both the Representative and Minister SAFRON drew attention to the importance of the Refugee Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative, which aims to continue ensuring that the host communities in Pakistan are not adversely affected by the additional demands placed on services and infrastructure in Pakistan.

Pakistan is set to host the next meeting of Quadripartite Steering Committee on SSAR in Islamabad on 18-19 September this year. It is expected that a Joint Resource Mobilisation Strategy will be finalised at the meeting.

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