Published On: Wed, Oct 9th, 2019
Published in Category: Islamabad

Afridi warns world against growing trend of displacement due to longstanding conflicts, disputes

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for SAFRON and Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi on Tuesday warned the global community against the growing trend of displacement, saying that the current figures of 70.8 million displaced population and 25.9 million refugees are alarming signs and the world needs to play its role in conflict resolution of longstanding issues. “Despite our efforts for graceful repatriation of the refugees, growing trend of displacement with current figures of 70.8 million displaced population and 25.9 million refugees are alarming. We need to think about it and suggest practical steps to arrest such trend.

This august forum as always will be pivotal to identify the core issues and to work for refugees earliest and durable solutions,” said Shehryar Afridi while addressing the participants of 70th Session of the Executive Committee of UNHCR in Geneva, Switzerland. The Minister said that Pakistan was open to adopt Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) on refugees due to its proximity to Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) framework and its objectives, but urged the global community to provide adequate resources of region-specific issues and sensitivities.

“Pakistan has significantly contributed to the cause of awareness and efforts to address the Refugee situation and also played key role in conflict resolution and ending wars. I would also urge the global community to come forward and offer a quick and predictable response for burden and responsibility sharing in refugees’ hosting,” he said. He said that it was a source of concern that over 85 per cent of refugees were being hosted by developing countries that have limited resources.

“The burden becomes more difficult and disproportionate. Pakistan is the second highest refugees’ hosting country and half of world’s protracted refugees,” he said and added that Pakistan has demonstrated unparalleled generosity and hospitality in hosting Afghan refugees for the last 40 years, and adhered to the highest standards of protection and facilitation. “This enormous task is being greatly facilitated through efficient organizational structures, dedicated staff and credible documentation.

Our commitment to refugees’ issue is evident from the fact that our Prime Minister would be co-convener at Global Refugees Forum to be held in December this year in Geneva,” asserted the minister. Afridi said that Pakistan has always looked after refugees on humanitarian basis and expects our partners the same. He said Pakistan is passing through a difficult phase economically, which coupled with host fatigue and dwindling International support has further aggravated the situation.

“Despite limited resources, billions of dollars have been spent by the Government on refugees. Colossal wear and tear to infrastructure, burden on health, education sectors along with difficulties in services providing entities are becoming acute by the day”. Afridi said that in such situations, quick and predictable response from our global partners for burden and responsibility sharing is earnestly required. “We are sure that UNHCR’s global policies are beneficial, still emphasis should be on country and region specific requirements and capacities, especially under-stress education and Health sectors”.

The minister said that Pakistan appreciates the contribution of its partners towards Refugees Affected and Hosting Areas (RAHA) initiative. “Though it covers only a fraction of what has been incurred by Pakistan, still it helps in social cohesion. However, the gradual reduction of funds towards RAHA would adversely impact this positive initiative,” he added. He said Pakistan along with its regional partners, has decided to continue with Solution Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) till December 2021, emphasising its three pillars that are voluntary repatriation, sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan and support to the host countries. “While the concept of Support Platform under SSAR is welcomed, the additional partners’ participation should not be a substitute to our traditional global partners’ contributions where underlying principle was the humanitarian assistance in Refugees’ management and repatriation,” he added. He said that all Refugees are fully respected in Pakistan with free access to Government’s basic education, health services and other facilities.

“While Pakistan is taking care of about million Afghan urban refugees that moved from camps due to stoppage of assistance by the International Community, we are also looking after half a million camp based refugees, and effectively trying to re-establish the shrinking services there. We are thankful to UNHCR for extending their support”. He urged the international community to fully support and generously contribute to development of Afghanistan. “This initiative and efforts of Govt. of Afghanistan for peace and stability in their country, along with the repatriation grant restored to its past level of 400 dollars, would provide enabling environment for quick repatriation and sustainable reintegration in their home country”. “I also take this opportunity to share the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision on Statelessness.

Not only is the Prime Minister sympathetic towards Stateless population, he on many occasions talked of a policy that would facilitate them,” he said. Afridi said the 500 Million rupees Afghan Citizen Card project covered unidentified people, gave identity to 840,000 Afghan citizens. “For other nationalities, our Government authorized NADRA, our State of the Art organization for their identities and data bank. Through this initiative, the registration of potential stateless would be much easier and transparent with expected facilitation in future,” he added. He said Pakistan adheres to the policy of safety and protection of all Afghan Refugees and follows the principle of voluntary and dignified repatriation. Despite enduring challenges and massive financial and social costs, we will continue with this principle. “I sincerely urge all our global partners, especially those that are specifically mandated to match our efforts through generous and continued support for this humanitarian cause,” he concluded. Ends