UNHCR calls for greater efforts towards longer-term solutions for Afghans in Pakistan

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, has called for a bolstering of efforts towards longer-term solutions for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the UNHCR said in a statement on Tuesday. He called for an urgent reset of the aid model towards solutions and responsibility sharing, including fostering new partnerships and developing innovative approaches to addressing the protracted displacement situation, the statement said. “We need to seize this opportunity to accelerate solutions and have a bigger, broader vision for the Afghan people in Pakistan,” the official said.

The High Commissioner offered to work towards a dialogue later this year, which will bring together key stakeholders including government representatives, development actors, and the private sector to develop a package of solutions that benefits both the Afghan population living in Pakistan and the host country itself. Grandi also committed to redoubling efforts aimed at creating conditions conducive to return to Afghanistan including from the perspective of material conditions, access to services, and job opportunities, so as to pave the way for sustainable voluntary returns in the future, the statement added.

During the visit, Grandi met Afghan refugees in urban settings as well as in a refugee village, where they briefed him about their concerns and expressed their desire to contribute to their communities in Pakistan and, eventually, in Afghanistan. According to the UNHCR, Pakistan hosts some three million Afghans with some living in the country for generations.

Issues of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan

Pakistan has shown remarkable hospitality by hosting Afghan refugees for over four decades, with the number reaching up to 5 million at its peak. This unprecedented gesture of solidarity has provided a safe haven for countless individuals fleeing conflict and persecution in Afghanistan. Despite facing significant economic challenges, Pakistan has continued to support these refugees, ensuring their safety and providing essential services.

However, Pakistan’s economy, already under strain from various internal and external factors, is struggling to sustain such a large refugee population indefinitely. The economic burden includes not only direct costs such as food, healthcare, and education for the refugees but also indirect costs like the strain on infrastructure, public services, and job markets. This situation has necessitated a call for a more sustainable and comprehensive solution to address the refugee crisis.

The international community must step up to share this responsibility and support Pakistan in managing the refugee situation. Financial aid, development projects, and capacity-building initiatives are essential to alleviate the pressure on Pakistan’s economy. Additionally, efforts must be made to create conditions in Afghanistan that allow for the safe and voluntary repatriation of refugees. International organizations such as the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations have a critical role to play in mobilizing resources and coordinating efforts to achieve these goals.

For example, collaborative projects that enhance infrastructure, healthcare, and education in refugee-hosting areas can benefit both the refugees and the local population, fostering social cohesion and economic development. Furthermore, increased diplomatic efforts to stabilize Afghanistan can create a more conducive environment for refugees to return home safely.

Pakistan’s narrative is one of compassion and resilience, having borne the brunt of the refugee crisis for decades. The international community’s active involvement is crucial in ensuring a fair distribution of responsibilities and resources. By working together, we can develop a sustainable solution that honors the humanitarian needs of the Afghan refugees while supporting Pakistan’s economic stability and development.

In conclusion, the issue of Afghan refugees in Pakistan is a complex challenge that requires a coordinated and sustained international response. Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices should be acknowledged and supported through tangible actions and resources from the global community, ensuring a dignified and sustainable future for Afghan refugees and stability for the host country.

Reference Link:- https://english.news.cn/asiapacific/20240710/5e27b194a7984374961df89dc43ef75c/c.html

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